As the City of Gallatin continues to hire more minority employees, city leaders say there is still more work to be done to better reflect the existing diversity of the community.
As of June, Gallatin had 434 full-time and permanent part-time employees, according to data provided by the city’s human resources department. Of those, only 6.91 percent were minorities.
While the number of minority employees has more than doubled since the city first began keeping track of the information in November 2011, it is still not reflective of local demographics.
“I truly would like to reflect the community we serve,” Mayor Paige Brown said about the data. “The best way to do that is equaling out those percentages. It’s hard to do and we need the community’s help on that.”
According to the United States Census Bureau, Gallatin’s population is approximately 77.8 percent white, 13.6 percent black and 8.3 percent Hispanic.
Efforts to increase diversity among the city’s workforce have included expanded outreach and recruitment efforts within the local minority communities through local churches, job fairs and social media, according to Brown.
John D. Alexander, who is the only black member of the Gallatin City Council, said he hopes to have a plan to help with the city’s minority recruitment efforts within the next two weeks.
“We should have a lot more representation than what we have,” Alexander said. “The percent has been in single digits from day one ever since I’ve been up there. It’s time for us to at least get in the double digits.
“It can be done.”
Of the city’s 15 different departments, the Gallatin Police Department has the most minority employees – 14 in all, according to the most recent data from the city. The Gallatin Fire Department has the second most with nine.
Nearly half of the city’s departments – seven in all – do not have a minority employee.
“This is 2020,” Alexander said. “You have to have one.”
Despite an overall increase of employee diversity, the number of minorities in management positions with the city has remained mostly stagnant during the last eight years.
There have been between two and four minority employees in management roles at any given time between April 2012 and June 2020, according to a review of city records. There were between 36 and 47 white employees in similar positions during the same time.
“There is just not turnover (in those jobs),” Brown said about the lack diversity in management. “Then, when you’re looking for some of those higher-level jobs, there are too many good opportunities out there. It’s a very competitive market for employees.
“The key is getting good employees and retaining them.”
In addition to workforce availability, Brown said hiring more minority employees has also been a challenge since individuals do not have to disclose their ethnicity when applying for a job with the city.
She added the city will continue with its increased outreach and diversity recruitment efforts and welcomes any ideas and suggestions on how to improve the process.
“We can always do better, and we do want to,” Brown said. “I truly do believe that throughout the city we want more diversity here. We welcome it, we embrace it and we’re trying to make it so.”