LIMA — Expanding diversity training and making the utterance of racial slurs a dischargeable offense — those were the two recommendations made by Lima City Council’s Human Resources Committee to city administration during its Tuesday meeting.
Both recommendations were welcomed by Chief of Staff Sheretta Smith and Human Resources Director Vince Ozier, who agreed with council that changes among the city’s workforce were causing racial stresses that needed to be addressed by more than an annual harassment training session.
Lima City Council, as the legislative branch of the city, cannot force city administration to take certain actions, but it can ask that certain actions be taken.
“We have good faith that you will take actions that you deem fit,” Committee Chair Rebecca Kreher said.
Ozier, who reported the city’s current zero tolerance policy at the start of the meeting, said there’s been more minority hires in recent years. That changing dynamic calls for changes to the city’s policy, especially the training aspect.
Current harassment training courses consist of a presentation and video. With Councilor Derry Glenn’s help connecting the city with a diversity consultant, Ozier said he is receptive to bringing in a third party able to facilitate discussion sessions between employees that could correct attitudes that potentially create a negative and unsafe work culture.
Councilor Jamie Dixon said there’s been a rise in the number of public racial and sexual slurs by major political, entertainment and business icons throughout the last few years, and that it’s time the city reconfigures its current policy to show such actions will not be tolerated by public employees.
“Do I think we have a good policy? Yes. Do I think it could use some enhancement? Yes.” Dixon said. “We should be treated with dignity. We should be treated with decency, and we should be treated with respect.”
“We’re already doing something. Adding to that would be a perfect opportunity to put that into place rather than create something brand new,” Councilor Jon Neeper said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.