Roseville institutes new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Focus Group

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 3, 2020

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ROSEVILLE — The city of Roseville is hoping to increase its awareness of the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion with a new focus group.

Called the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Focus Group, the new body consists of members of the city government and associated departments such as the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe and the Roseville Public Library.

“It’s a very broad-based committee with representatives from all of our departments, and we want to develop new regulations and policies to try and tackle this very important and broad issue,” City Manager Scott Adkins said. “There are 17 members with representation from all city departments and operations, including the library and recreation authority. It’s an administrative committee, so it’s not run through the City Council. They are represented on it though.”

Although only consisting of city staff at this point, the members hope to bring in more members of the community as it solidifies its mission and goals.

“It’s pretty much for employees at this point, but we would love to expand that out to more people in the community so they can share their experiences and points of view,” said City Councilman Bill Shoemaker. “We want to adapt more to the community. It’s a tough topic to approach, but it’s one we have to approach.”

Adkins said the specific goals and priorities are still being determined, but its overarching mission is definite: to ensure Roseville is a community that is open and welcoming to all people.

“It became a much broader mission after our first meeting,” he said. “It’s not just about how our city government operates, but also how we can encourage more open dialogue and promote more positive local policies. The discussion of setting up a group like this came up more than a year ago. This was something we had been talking about for a long while.”

He said that in addition to ensuring there is more equality in Roseville, one of his hopes is that by looking at the far-reaching effects of racism, progress can be made on numerous issues that affect everyone.

“We’re on the ground floor right now. Our first challenge is to make sure we understand what we’re facing,” Adkins said. “We want to make sure what we tackle is done in a comprehensive way. We want to look at what other communities are doing as well and work with them. Some of (our mission) even crosses over into other areas, such as addressing homelessness and improving community programs. We want to bring as many people together to deal with these challenges as possible.”

Adkins went on to say that a group with a goal of diversity needs to look at problems and solutions from every possible angle.

“It’s a collective and open process in which we try to bring in as many partners as possible,” he said. “We know we can’t tackle every concern, but we want to identify what specific steps we can take to address specific issues. It’s early to say what those issues are. We know there are some more overarching issues such as equity in boards and committees and ensuring people are welcome in the greater culture or the arts in the community.”

“Hopefully we’ll be able to explore different means of exploring equity,” added Shoemaker. “Social issues, financial issues and so forth.”

Members of the group are taking part on a volunteer basis.

“The city manager put out an email asking who would be interested in the group and I answered that I would be,” said Shoemaker. “Roseville’s getting more interested in diversity, and we certainly could use some conversation in that area, because our city employees don’t necessarily mirror the community anymore, so it will be good to update how we’re looking at things.”

The group will meet once a month and once meetings become public, they will be posted on the city’s website, www.roseville-mi.gov. A website also is being built for the focus group.

“Although the goal is more diversity and inclusion, it’s not just about any one thing or a single approach,” said Adkins. “Our specific goal is to take an overview of where the city stands in relation to these issues, from an operational standpoint within our departments, as well as a community as a whole, so we can see what the city can do to become more welcoming and understanding.”

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