Howard Co. government seeking to hire a diversity officer

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Howard County is hiring a diversity, equity and inclusion manager to bridge racial disparities that officials say still exist in the county.

County Executive Calvin Ball (D) announced Monday he’s looking for an Equity and Restorative Practices manager. The move follows recommendations from a transition report that was released in January of 2019, shortly after Ball took office.

In addition to recommending a manager to oversee diversity and inclusion in the county, that report also urged Ball to create a plan to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce. Report authors also asked Ball to conduct a disparity study to look at contracting practices in the county.

“The current pandemic has only highlighted the disparities and discrimination that so many people face – there is an urgent need to address inequity in our community,” Ball said in a Monday statement.

Racial equity is still an issue in Howard County: A January report by the Horizon Foundation found that people of color lag behind white people when it comes to health in the county. The report found that, despite Howard County’s wealth, Black infants in the county die at more than double the rate of white infants, and Black mothers are 83% more likely than white mothers to give birth to a premature baby.

The report also found that Latina and Black mothers are twice as likely as white mothers to receive poor or no prenatal care.

Yolanda Sonnier, the administrator of Howard County’s newly renamed Office of Human Rights and Equity, said she hopes the new position will help close the county’s equity gaps.

“Howard County is a great place to live and work but there are still substantial disparities that exist here,” Sonnier said. “In order to improve the disparities and inequities, we must identify them, and this position will work towards making the County a more equitable place for all.”

The position will be open from Monday through Sept. 11. Read the full job posting here.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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