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Politics and Government

Syracuse creates new office of diversity, inclusion

WRVO News (file photo)

Diversity and inclusion are the focus of a new initiative inside Syracuse City Hall. 

The Walsh Administration is creating a new Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility, called IDEA. Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens is in charge.

"I see this office as a 30,000-foot umbrella,” Owens said. “Every decision we’re making, I’m asking and our staff is asking the question, is it inclusive, is it diverse, is it equitable, is it accessible?”

Owens said that means policy decisions must take into account those tenets. For example, the office will make sure the process of getting public opinion on a particular project is equitable, and includes all segments of the community. An internal staff survey in January will help Owens on the second part of the initiative's two-pronged approach; creating a city workforce that reflects the diversity of the people who live in Syracuse. Owens expects that survey will point to an area in city government where diversity needs a boost.

"I tend to believe what the data will show is that we need to work hard on diversifying middle management and upper-level management,” Owens said.

The citywide initiative will coordinate the actions of staff currently working in multiple city departments.