MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 31, 2012) — The Minneapolis City Council last Friday approved a resolution supporting equity in employment along with a series of actions to eliminate the racial and ethnic disparities in employment in Minneapolis and the entire region.
The Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro region has among the highest employment disparities in the country, with African Americans 3.3 times more likely to be unemployed as whites in the Twin Cities.
“I am proud that we are taking this important step in our ongoing efforts to address the real, although often hidden, impacts of our long history of racism and discrimination,” said Council Member Cam Gordon, co-author of the resolution. “While government cannot solve this problem alone, now we are more clearly committed to lead by example, to develop better tools and practices that can be used by others, and to join more purposefully with our regional partners to end the legacy of institutionalized racism that continues to plague us, and create a more economically just city for everyone.”
“Today we are reaffirming our commitment to being a city where everyone can thrive economically and where race will no longer predict an individual’s level of educational attainment, likelihood of going to prison, life expectancy, income or employment status,” said City Council Member Don Samuels, co-author of the resolution.
“With programs like STEP-UP and One Minneapolis, we’ve created innovative programs aimed at eliminating the racial employment gap in Minneapolis, but much more needs to be done,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. “With today’s action, we are supporting and encouraging consistent, applied efforts by employers in Minneapolis and across the region to hire, retain and promote more people of color.”
The approved actions to eliminate the disparities in employment in Minneapolis and the region include:
• Develop an equity assessment toolkit that can be used by City leaders to inform decision-making across the organization – from budget and policy development to program prioritization and implementation.
• Assess and implement, where appropriate, the recommendations of the Equity in Employment Task Force.
• Join the regional collaboration, Everybody In, to reduce racial employment disparities; appoint a Council Member to serve on the steering committee; select staff to serve on the implementation committee and leverage funding to support the plan’s implementation.
Addressing racial disparities in employment has long been a priority of the City of Minneapolis. In 2008, the City established a steering committee specifically designed to identify and implement tangible steps that could be taken to address this disparity.
In December 2011, Mayor Rybak and the City Council adopted the 2012 budget that funds the One Minneapolis initiative, and in January 2012, the Council established key benchmarks that make progress toward eliminating the disparities gap, with a goal of reducing the unemployment gap by 25 percent by 2016.
One of the most successful aspects of One Minneapolis is the RENEW initiative. Initially funded by economic-recovery dollars, RENEW trains and places people who have faced challenges finding employment in green-economy jobs. To date, close to 500 people have been trained through RENEW, and two-thirds have been placed in good, green jobs.
The City is also training young people to join the workforce. Since the STEP-UP program started in 2004, almost 16,000 Minneapolis young people have been placed in good-paying summer jobs with most of the city’s best companies and nonprofits.
More than 85 percent of STEP-UP participants have been kids of color. This year the City began a new leadership development program called Urban Scholars that introduces college students from diverse backgrounds to careers in the public sector.
Eight students completed the program, three of whom were STEP-UP interns. This program creates a pipeline of experienced professionals for the public sector which is critical in light of the number of people positioned to retire from City government in the next four years and to increasing diversity in the City.