No Asians Hired By Brookline During First Three Months of 2021

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Brookline town officials are disappointed that they did not hire any Asian-Americans during the first quarter of 2021.

The town hired 12 new employees between January 1 and March 31, tracking them by race. One quarter are black, one quarter are Latino, half are white – but none are Asian.

“We did not hire anyone who was Asian. We did have Asian applicants in the applicant pool. But they did not come to the final hiring process,” said Ann Braga, the town’s human resources director, during the board of selectmen meeting Tuesday night. “And as I will note later, one of the things we will be looking into is how we can recruit more effectively in the Asian-American population, moving forward.”

It has been a stumbling block so far, another town official said.

“We really need to be more aggressive and assertive and look at strategies to help increase our Asian employees within the town’s departments. We know this has been an issue for a while. We just don’t have a way of actually changing that at this point, but we’re looking for ideas,” said Lloyd Gellineau, the town’s chief diversity officer, told selectmen.

On the plus side, members of other racial minorities filled mid-manager roles in the town’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Relations, Building Department, and Health Department.

“The highlights include that all three mid-manager positions were filled by either Latinx or black individuals. And I think that has been a longtime goal of the town, to be able to see some upward visibility of people of color in positions that are at the higher levels of the organization,” Braga said. “We also added a Latinx zoning coordinator-planner, and a Latinx early childhood teacher.”

“Latinx” is a term that refers to people from Latin America or of Latin American descent without being gender-specific, such as the masculine “Latino” or feminine “Latina.” It is pronounced “Latin X.”

Other new town employees in Brookline include two 911 operators, two motor equipment operators, two golf course employees, and a parks director.

Town officials try several ways to maximize chances of hiring members of racial minorities. They try to make sure that job descriptions include only essential qualifications and are made “through a diversity and equity lens.”

They also “assertively recruit passive applicants” – meaning people who are already working. “Essentially we steal other people’s workers,” said Gellineau, who earned $118,152.02 in gross pay in 2020, according to a database published by Brookline Patch.

But these methods haven’t worked as well as hoped when it comes to Asians.

“As I said earlier, you know, one of the things we’re looking to do is review recruiting techniques for improved Asian participation in the applicant pool, and ultimately for selection where they are qualified applicants,” Braga said.

Earlier in the meeting, a town resident criticized the town government for its record of hiring people of color.

Bernard Greene, chairman of the board of selectmen – which Brookline started calling “Select Board” in November 2017 to make it gender-neutral – defended the selectmen’s office as “a very diverse department – probably among the most diverse in our town.” He noted that he is black and that another selectman is a Latino. He also said that two employees in the selectmen’s office are also of color – for a total of four “out of eight or nine individuals.”

“I think we need to get credit for that, as opposed to being told that we’re not doing enough,” Greene said.

Braga, the human resources director, said official statistics on the town’s diversity in hiring can be deceiving. She said a black woman who works in the human resources department doesn’t count toward that department’s diversity numbers because she works only 30 hours a week instead of 37.5 hours a week.

“But in the select board office, where we’re responsible, we have four full-time employees,” Greene said, referring to employees of color.

The other selectman of color, Raul Fernandez, noted that he and Greene are not the fruits of racial diversity recruiting.

“I mean, briefly, just to say:  two of us were elected. So to say that this a result of any hiring efforts is kind of – I mean, anyway. But I’m less interested in quibbling over that than I am in talking about how we can – “ Fernandez said, before suggesting that town officials use social media such as Instagram to reach potential minority applicants.

“How are we doing with that? Is that something that’s in our toolbox right now, or that can be developed?” Fernandez said.

“I would love to be able to do that. I do not have the bandwidth under my current staffing to do that,” said Braga, who earned $132,045.97 in gross pay in 2020, according to Brookline Patch.

She said she’d like to partner with a film student to create a three-minute day-in-the-life video about certain jobs, which might be a way of reaching non-traditional applicants while giving them a good idea of what a particular job entails, including the concept of “all hands on deck.”

She noted that a town park ranger was on the job last spring — “And then we had snow, and he was surprised that he had to go shovel snow.”

Source:  Presentation of human resources director and diversity director to the selectmen of the town of Brookline, Massachusetts on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.


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