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February 6, 2023

City of Worcester seeks to give more power to diversity & inclusion office

Photo | Timothy Doyle Worcester City Hall

In the wake of the high-profile resignation of the City of Worcester’s chief diversity officer last year and an independent audit painting a grim picture of diversity and inclusion efforts inside city hall, the city government is looking to give more power to its Executive Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

City Manager Eric Batista on Tuesday will present his plan to reorganize ordinances for the Executive Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which would move services previously under the oversight of the Department of Health and Human Services to the restructured office.

Photo | Courtesy City of Worcester
Worcester City Manager Eric Batista

Batista’s plan, to be delivered to City Council, would rename the office now known as the Executive Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and would have the new office oversee the Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Commission on Latino Affairs, and the Status of Women Advisory Committee, which were previously part of the DHHS. The Accessibility and Human Rights Divisions would merge with EODEI, according to a memo released Friday in advance to the presentation of the plan. 

The reorganization plan comes after a September report found DHHS workers felt DEI issues were not a priority and not taken seriously. The report, commissioned from Quincy’s Letterman White Consulting LLC by the City of Worcester, sought to detail issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion within city government. It expanded upon issues that came to light after the resignation of Stephanie Williams in early 2022, as she was the third chief diversity officer in Worcester since the position was created in 2016.

The suggestions for restructuring are a step toward hiring a new CDO, something Batista said he would not do until structures to allow more success in the role were solidified. 

Batista’s reorganization plan will need to be reviewed by a council committee and be subject to a public hearing within 30 days, per city charter. Following the hearing, the plan will need to receive a majority vote from City Council to be accepted.

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