May 20, 2024


Equality opinion

Do government employees reflect the community in race, ethnicity?

Springfield Youth Services Librarian Taylor Worley sings a song with children over the internet during story time.

Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t political, Jody Barlow said. 

They’re “how we survive,” said Barlow, a senior analyst with the city of Eugene’s employee resource center — what the city calls its revamped human resources department. 

“The more diverse something is, the more options it has to be successful,” said Barlow, who describes herself as a woman of color. 

Multiple national studies have shown companies and organizations that are more diverse are more successful, and increased diversity in government agencies, such as law enforcement, builds trust with the community. 

Eugene, Springfield and Lane County have turned those findings into practice in recent years, striving to have their government workspaces be more inclusive and seeking more diverse applicants. 

All three provided data on how employees say they identify racially and ethnically. The data is current as of the end of December or January. A Register-Guard comparison of that government-provided data and census demographics shows the cities and the county still have progress to reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the community. 

The Register-Guard’s analysis showed: 

  • Some groups are at least equally represented: Three racial or ethnic minorities working for Eugene, Springfield and the county are represented among staff at a level equal to or greater than the general population.
  • County staff more non-white than population: People who identify as non-white make up a larger portion of all of Lane County employees compared to the overall population. The same is true for seven county departments. That’s only true for one department in Eugene and in Springfield.
  • Fewer non-white supervisors: Fewer employees who supervise at least two people identify as non-white than employees overall in all three jurisdictions and than the general population in Eugene and Springfield.