Municipalities – Diversity, Inclusion, and Workplace Culture

Driving Diversity Through Social Media Screening in Local Government

While, broadly speaking, it is true that the public sector still tends to be more diverse than the private sector, local governments still struggle to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Research initiatives have helped support the claim that diversifying local government by hiring folks from underserved communities contributes to improved policy to serve those communities better.

Here, social media screening is emerging as a practical tool to support a healthier, more equitable workplace culture. By taking a more holistic approach to screening, municipalities may be able to mitigate some of the toxic behavior and unconscious bias that contributes to disenfranchised employees. A healthier workplace that actively engages in driving out discrimination may attract a more diverse candidate pool, which can help shift policy to serve the community better. Here’s how:

Social media screening takes a more nuanced approach to the individual

While screening criminal behavior may be a prerequisite for a career in local government, social behavior may have just as much to say about what makes an outstanding candidate. Plenty of problematic or unacceptable behaviors go undetected by criminal background searches. For example, two recent law enforcement firings in Virginia involved excessive use of force, while another in Kentucky involved an endorsement of hate speech. These types of behaviors can still be considered business-related behavior as it relates to the health and safety of both other colleagues and the public. Utilizing social media screening to supplement criminal searches helps agencies catch intolerant, violent, or threatening behavior that may violate department policy and contribute to a toxic workplace that disenfranchises protected class employees.

Mission-driven values can help drive diversity and inclusion initiatives the screening process

Local policy is determined by who is in the room, but getting the right people in the door to support meaningful policy change is more complicated. Diversity and inclusion initiatives rely heavily on a values-driven hiring approach, and values are best demonstrated through a track record of social behavior.

Enter social media screening, which can function as a practical solution to screen for behavior against an agency’s values. For example, if a department’s values include tolerance and inclusivity, Social Intelligence’s reports can focus on intolerant or bigoted behavior. Similarly, SI Reports can include a filter for violence or threatening activity for agencies concerned about violent behavior. With these clear, business-related filters, if a candidate’s report demonstrates a history of this type of behavior, the hiring manager then has a straightforward, actionable tool to adjudicate whether the candidate is a good fit for employment.

Driving out discrimination can help attract more diversity to the talent pool

Diversity in the workplace means nothing without an inclusive culture. To attract and retain a diverse talent pool, agencies must create the ideal working conditions for the target talent–namely, in this case, inclusivity.

For diversity, it’s a non-starter that the most significant stressors and reasons to leave are discrimination and intolerance due to an exclusive or homogenous culture. This pretense, in turn, exacerbates the problem of the lack of diversity in professional and middle management positions. If a workplace isn’t welcoming at the ground level, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a protected class employee to visualize an upward trajectory within the agency. One of the quickest ways to begin chipping away at this seemingly overwhelming obstacle is to screen incoming candidates at all levels for intolerant behavior via social media screening. HR managers can organically weed out harmful behavior by screening all new hires for potentially problematic behavior across multiple categories as an office or agency proceeds through a natural turnover process.

In turn, a municipality that actively takes steps to drive out discrimination in their ranks is more likely to extend that same attitude to the public, creating a model for a more equitable environment that ultimately ripples out into local communities. Government offices can change public perception locally by changing the workplace, building more positive relationships, and shoring up trust in communities where relationship-building matters.

What Can Social Intelligence do for municipalities?

Social Intelligence is proud to have direct relationships with agencies in local governments across the country and through partnerships like Miller Mendel, Inc, a leading background screening agency dedicated exclusively to public safety. Every day, Social Intelligence serves the public sector’s specific needs by customizing reports to include online searches for ongoing concerns such as gang affiliation, photos of fieldwork, and public ties to persons of interest. For public service clients, public trust is of utmost importance. Social Intelligence is there to help municipalities leverage the power of diversity through building healthier workplaces.

Want to learn more about screening for municipalities?

Check out these resources:

Social Media Screening for Municipalities

Municipalities – Social Media Policy for Better Workplaces