Pittsfield Affirmative Action Advisory Committee works to reach diverse job candidates


PITTSFIELD -- Notices for job openings in city government now are sent via email to all city workers, and also to BerkshireWorks, which advertises the jobs in print form and on the Massachusetts JobQuest website.

Those are among the additional steps taken since the summer in the city's efforts to reach more diverse job candidates.

"The goal is to reach out to the greatest pool of applicants," said Michael Taylor, the personnel technician in the city's Personnel Department, adding that he believes there has been a greater response overall to city job openings.

Taylor and Personnel Director John DeAngelo gave an overview of the city's expanded hiring policy this week at the first meeting of the reconstituted Pittsfield Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, which began mapping how it will revive the city's dormant affirmative action policy.

The expanded policy also includes sending notices to SmartRecruiters.com, where they are distributed to nine major job board sites, including LinkedIn, Indeed.com, and Glassdoor.com. Officials at Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the local NAACP chapter and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission likewise are sent notices.

"We also are looking for everyone's suggestions on how to reach out (to minority applicants)," DeAngelo said.

The group also planned for regular meetings and for affirmative action training sessions for supervisors and other city personnel.

The 11-member committee will help promote outreach to minority groups concerning city and school job postings and develop methods for reviewing the city's progress toward meeting affirmative action goals in hiring and other areas of employment.

"I just want to thank you all for volunteering to do this," Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi told the committee at the start of the meeting. "This is important work."

Mary McGinnis, Pittsfield's director of administrative services, listed broad goals for the committee. These include reviewing the existing policy and plan, which dates to 1992 and is being revised and updated with the committee's help.

McGinnis said four-hour affirmative action training sessions will be held over two days in December for up to two dozen city managers who hire employees.

School Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless, another member of the committee, said he believes the school system would cooperate on further training sessions.

McCandless added that city schools will join the Massachusetts Partnership on Diversity in Education, which strives to increase minority hiring and to make school workplaces more welcoming to minority candidates and to employees.

In addition to updating sections of the existing 37-page policy statement and plan, the group will meet at least four times a year and review progress and advise on issues related to the affirmative action goals, especially that of minority employment.

DeAngelo, now the designated affirmative action officer, said about 15 percent of the applicants for city jobs since the summer were minority candidates, and since September three of the nine hired for city posts were members of minority groups.

McCandless said he also intends to designate an affirmative action officer in the school system.

An advisory board is specified in the plan, and after a recruitment effort the committee of city and school officials and citizen volunteers was formed -- including representatives from several groups or organizations.

Speaking about the policy itself, Cecelia Rock, a retired former affirmative action officer at Rutgers University and New York University Medical Center, said one of her most difficult tasks in that job was in helping to develop methods of monitoring progress and in setting goals and timetables for a more diverse workforce.

McGinnis asked the committee members to review the policy and suggesting any needed revisions for discussion at the next meeting, tentatively set for Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

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