As posted originally on www.Delawareonline.com
In 2009, Gov. Jack Markell renewed an executive order that directed his agencies to pursue “the recruitment and promotion of qualified applicants from diverse backgrounds.”
Since that time, racial diversity in state government has decreased. The order stated that his government can maintain diversity only by improving its enforcement of “fair recruitment and promotions.” Despite this direc- tion from the state’s top elected official, the percentage of black and Hispanic employees that fill managerial positions has gone down from 2009 to 2014. The percentage of white managers has increased.
“Racism exists in epidemic proportions in state government,” said Silvester Beaman, president of the Interdenominational Ministers Action Council. White state workers accounted for 75 percent of “officials and administrators” in 2009, while 21 percent of those jobs were filled by black employees, according to data provided to The News Journal from the Delaware Department of Labor.
In 2014, six years after Markell’s executive order, the per- centage of black officials and administrators decreased to 20 percent, while it increased to 76 percent for white managers. Some 29 percent of permanent state employees were black and 65 percent were white in 2014, according to the Department of Labor. Although people who identify as Hispanic make up 9 percent of Delawareans, they account for only 3 percent of state government workers.
Delaware meets the “labor-market standards” set for government workforces by the U.S. Census Bureau, said James Collins, the chair of the Governor’s Council on Equal Employment Opportunity. “The goal is to reflect the public that we serve,” Collins said.
A group of black community leaders touched on a similar theme on Tuesday in Wilmington, although they were not satisfied with the current state of affairs at Delaware’s state agencies.
At the historic Louis Redding House, a coalition — which included the NAACP of Delaware and the Interdenominational Ministers Action Council, or IMAC — announced an effort to confront workforce discrimination in Delaware state government.
“Many of the acts that are going on are not always deliberate because it’s the culture that has been established within state government,” said the Rev. Christopher T. Curry, a pastor at Ezion Fair Baptist Church in Wilmington. “It is our desire to ensure that the African-American experience is one that is fair. We’re not asking for anything extra.” Those organizations are compiling accounts from state workers that have been the target of discrimination.
During the summer, they will present their findings to Markell.
“[Interviews] reveal that state employees have been subjected to blatant examples of racism,” Beaman said. A spokesperson from Markell’s office said that the governor embraces the opportunity to work produc- tively with the organizations involved in Tuesday’s event. Beaman would welcome the governor’s outreach.
“You have stated to us that you are against racism at any level of state government; you’ve said it in your own speech. Well, we want to see you join us,” he said.