The Leesburg Town Council voted Dec. 10 to create a task force to evaluate minority hiring practices in the town.
The Town Council is hoping to to develop a workforce that is more reflective of the town population. While whites constitute around 60 percent of the town population, there are 293 whites whites employed by the town to just 33 minorities. Of the minorities employed, 21 identify as black, eight identify as Hispanic, three identify as Asian and one identifies as other.
Councilwoman Kelly Burk brought forth the motion to create a 10-person task force to advise human resources and the town manager on how to improve minority recruitment. Burk recommended the task force meet four times over the course of the year, culminating in a report next December.
“We're not hiring minorities in positions. There may be a variety of reasons,” Burk said. “But one of the things we've got to start doing is reaching out to communities. We need to be able to get suggestions from those communities of the best place to advertise to get applicants. We looked at the numbers, and its pretty dismal the number of minority applicants we get.”
Of the 770 full-time applications received in 2013, 182 were from minority candidates.
Vice Mayor Dave Butler offered a friendly amendment to appoint Kelly Burk as the Town Council member on the task force.
The other members of the task force and the criteria with how they are selected will be determined at a later work session.
The motion ultimately passed unanimously.
The issue was brought forth from a Maryland attorney, Phillip E. Thompson, who sent a letter to the council regarding a lack of minority employees.
“There is a hope that this Council would try to address this issue in a coherent and a systematic way before outside parties and public scrutiny become an issue,” Thompson says in the letter. “Other municipalities and organizations when faced with similar employment imbalances, have put in place policies and procedures to try to address their workforce makeup without disrupting ongoing operations.”
The Town did note that they have attempted to expand minority recruiting efforts, including advertising with La Voz, which reaches a Spanish-language audience, and a new online method of posting jobs.