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Dover approves partnership to boost diversity and inclusion city-wide

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Dover City Council members were torn over an effort to increase inclusion in Dover businesses.

Dover City Council narrowly approved a new partnership with United Way of Delaware and the Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative.


It aims to find ways to boost diversity, equity and inclusion among city staff and Dover’s businesses.


City council member David Anderson expresses frustration at the city’s repeated diversity failures.


“We haven’t figured it out in 300 years how to get this done in the city of Dover so maybe we need somebody to help us — because obviously we don’t have in the city a culture exactly where we need to go,” Anderson said.


A 2019 study commissioned by the city found large gaps in diversity among city staff, and minorities were underrepresented at city hall and in the police department.


Interim city manager Matt Harline says diversity should be a top priority.


“If we don’t start developing good diversity and inclusion culture and techniques to implement the study that was done by the Ivy Group, then as the labor market gets better we won’t be ready to hire — we won’t be ready to compete and provide the kind of environment that will attract the best first candidates that we can,” said Harline.


Three council members attempted to delay the agreement until November, saying the city has yet to identify the diverse workforce it wants, and it should wait to hire a new city manager.


Council member Gerald Rocha recused himself from this vote, as he works for the United Way.


Anderson says the city has waited long enough and this agreement will help find that workforce, and develop a plan.


The city agreed to a $20,000 cost for the program which is expected to take two years to develop and implement a plan.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.


Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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