HIGH POINT — The city’s new diversity, equity and inclusion program is seeking to bring more women and ethnic minorities into High Point’s workforce.

Managing Director Jeron Hollis told the City Council at a recent briefing on the progress of the initiative that about 23% of the city’s roughly 1,400 employees are minorities and 26% are women.

Hollis said 2020 census data show that the city’s population as a whole is 57% minority and 53% women.

“Council has made a commitment earlier that having a workforce that reflects the demographics of the community is something that is important,” he said. “We’re in a unique area now with the opportunities we have moving forward as we’re hiring and replacing people who are leaving the workforce.”

Attention to the demographic makeup of the city workforce is a key factor in meeting the service needs of High Point’s increasingly diverse population, he said.

Research has shown that having a broader talent pool helps foster creativity, increased problem-solving, decision-making capability and alternative points of view among employees who deliver services, he said.

The city in January named Jelani Biggs as DEI officer and has budgeted a DEI specialist position that officials hope to fill in early 2022, Hollis said.

Both will partner with the Human Resources Department to start a recruitment program that will cast a wider net in seeking candidates from underrepresented populations.

An example of a new type of outreach under consideration could be working with refugee resettlement agencies in the area to make their clients aware of hiring opportunities with the city, he said.

Another step city staff is taking to implement the DEI program involves working with a consultant to conduct a survey of city employees to assess their knowledge, skills and experience related to race and equity. This probably will be done sometime in early 2022.

Hollis said the consultant recommends gathering this information early in the process of implementing DEI initiatives.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com | 336-888-3531