Cook County logo. WTIP file photo
WTIP file photo

Cook County approves affirmative action and nepotism policy

A commitment to equal-employment opportunities through affirmative action programming has a purpose of embracing and supporting equity, diversity and inclusion in the community when it comes to hiring staff at the county level, according to Cook County Human Resources Director Pamela Dixon.

During a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, March 23, Dixon proposed expanding the county’s existing equal employment opportunity policy to include a specific affirmative action policy. After a presentation by Dixon on expanding the policy to include aspects of affirmative action and nepotism, the board unanimously approved the proposal.

“We had this notion of equal treatment, when in fact we need to strive for equity in that making sure that everybody gets the supports that they need and through that we have this evolution of affirmative action,” Dixon said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Dixon also said that through specific hiring policies the county should strive to eliminate “institutional or systemic barriers” within the walls of county government and beyond.

“Over the past year we’ve heard a lot, particularly around race and anti-racism and removing institutional barriers,” Dixon said. “There’ve been many community members here in Cook County who have called for that from the county and this is one way that the human resources department can help move us in that direction.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, an affirmative action plan is a set of goal-oriented management policies and procedures to eliminate barriers to employment. These barriers are not based on specific job requirements. Eliminating these barriers and following these policies and procedures is intended to increase retention of minorities, women and qualified disabled.

Accompanying the affirmative action policy was a statement and policy on nepotism, commonly defined as the practice of hiring or giving favorable treatment in the workplace to relatives or friends among those who are in a position of supervisory authority.

Click here to view the county’s updated policy as it was approved March 23.

The audio below is Dixon speaking during Tuesday’s meeting of the county board.

The audio below is Cook County Administrator James Joerke speaking on this topic during the commissioner meeting.