Kern County has anywhere from 7500 to 8000 employees, according to Chief Human Resources Officer of Kern County, Devin Brown.
“All of those employees come from different communities of interest and different backgrounds, and it’s important for them as the stewards of our taxpayer resources to have a voice in how our county is run and operated,” Devin Brown, Chief Human Resources Officer said.
A letter Brown signed and presented to the Kern County Board of Supervisors a few months ago had that idea in mind: to allocate almost a couple hundred thousand taxpayer dollars toward the creation of a Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion for the county.
As detailed in the letter, although Kern County has implemented an Equal Employment Opportunity plan for years before this position, this proposal also came after the Kern Community First Initiative issued a call to action last year, for “improved representation of the African-American community in government employment.” The #MeToo movement also played a role in this position being made, according to Brown.
“This is something that has been in the works well before those calls to action were occurring, but it was an opportunity for us to listen to what their needs are as well as many other different representative groups of our community and built a well-rounded position that’s really going to help the county go forward and improve its workforce significantly,” Brown said.
A few months later, Kern County hired their very first Director of EDI: Pawan Gill. Gill will be paid anywhere from $84,000 to $103,500 a year to ensure future hires come from a diverse pool of applicants, according to Brown.
Brown highlighted that importance with thousands of employees across
a diverse selection of agencies in Kern County, from behavioral health, criminal defense, to law enforcement, and so many others.
“Being able to add a level of expertise with that particular focus, so that our recruitments for our different county departments are reaching as many corners of this county as possible,” Brown said.
Brown says Gill will also be in charge of making government agencies across the county are free from work discrimination or harassment and meeting obligations under equal employment opportunity laws.
“Making sure that they’re working in a respectful and positive work environment is the first step,” Brown said.