- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
“The current pattern is that the subject of diversity often isn’t discussed until there is a community problem or issue to be resolved. This reactive approach reinforces that diversity is a negative issue and a barrier within the city of Paris and Lamar County,” the report states. “Paris, Texas, and Lamar County are in the perfect position to take action that can heal past wounds and lay the foundation for a community that represents the best of Texas.”
Paris Economic Development Corp. Director Steve Gilbert presented the 85-page report from Executive Diversity Services to the PEDC board this week, with plans to submit a summary at the next meeting.
Executive Diversity Services’ recommendations come in five areas: Awareness, alignment, action, accountability and next steps.
Under awareness, the report suggests:
The “alignment” section deals with increasing participation from residents from all areas and demographic segments. The report suggests:
The proposed action steps include:
There’s little obvious accountability right now, the report notes. Elected officials and other leaders have some sense of responsibility for the culture in the community, but most people believed the Diversity Task Force volunteers were responsible for anything dealing with diversity. As the region has started moving toward shared leadership and planning, the study recommends a single person or team identified to develop a 3 to 5 year strategy, which would require input from business, community and elected leaders. It may start out as a group of volunteers, but the report says it will eventually need a full-time staff person who works for the city or a non-profit. To pay for the position, it is suggested all the businesses and groups involved should contribute to funding it.
“The number one need for taking the next step is a commitment from leaders to take consistent, proactive and visible action in a cooperative and collaborative way,” the report states. “Paying attention to diversity is not the same as responding to discrimination. Transforming diversity into inclusion is not easy but it can be done.”
The Paris Diversity Task Force started the diversity initiative. PEDC coordinated the effort with support from the Paris City Council, Lamar County Commissioners Court and Workforce Solutions of Northeast Texas. The Project Manager was Dallas-based consultant Tracy Brown.
From December 2011 through June 2012, Brown interviewed community leaders; conducted focus groups; administered an online survey; gathered data about demographics, economic trends and reviewed documents from government offices and businesses; met with Diversity Task Force members; talked with people in the community; and delivered updates.
All that work lead to a written report that covered issues such as current needs and expectations in diversity for Lamar County, obstacles, best practices and recommendations. Executive Diversity also developed a customized tool kit for business owners called “Commitment and Compliance: A Business Owner’s Guide to Laying the Foundation for an Inclusive Workplace” The idea is to help them “understand the impact of diversity on products, people and profit.”