HIRE Minnesota works where we can make real change to eliminate racial employment disparities in Minnesota. Here are some examples of our work in action.
Minnesota Department of Transportation
The Minnesota Department of Transportation spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually to build our state’s roads, bridges and transitways. Despite being a significant job creator with access to strong workforce development programs, MnDOT has never met its goal to hire 6 percent women and 11 percent people of color each year.
In 2009, HIRE Minnesota stepped in to demand change. We have brought hundreds of people to MnDOT headquarters to send the me that we wouldn’t leave until women and people of color got a fair share of the jobs. But we have also engaged in collaborative solutions, taking a leadership role in designing specific tools that could result in more jobs for women and people of color.
It’s working. In 2011, the total workforce on MnDOT projects was 8.5 percent people of color, up from 6.1 percent in 2009. The female workforce was 4.5 percent, up from 3.3 percent in 2009. The number of women and people of color hired to work on MnDOT jobs more than doubled over the last two years, and there was an increase in the number of workers in each race and ethnicity reported. Over the time HIRE Minnesota has been working with MnDOT, more than 1,300 new jobs were created. A higher percentage of those jobs is going to people of color than ever before.
We are thrilled with the progress made, but we will not let up. HIRE Minnesota will not only continue to put pressure on MnDOT to meet its goals, put we will push them to exceed them and have a workforce that represents the true diversity of our state.
Central Corridor Light Rail Transit
At an estimated $1 billion, the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project is the largest public works project in Minnesota history. Over the life of the three-year construction project, more than 800 jobs are expected to be created.
But who will get those jobs? HIRE Minnesota thinks women and people of color deserve their fair share. Since 2010, we have been working with the Metropolitan Council to proactively help the agency meet its goal to hire 18 percent people of color and 6 percent women.
HIRE Minnesota has helped design better tracking mechanism to ensure goals are being tracked and met each month. When the contractors fall short, we challenge them and the state agencies to take immediate action.
So far, so good. As construction began this summer, the minority workforce for both major contractors was lagging. HIRE Minnesota immediately recognized the trend and pushed those contractors to take corrective action. At the end of 2011, both contractors are meeting the 6 percent goal for women. One contractor is meeting the goal for people of color, while the other is very close at 16.8 percent.
HIRE Minnesota will continue to work with the Met Council and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to push the contractors and hold them accountable to their hiring goals.
City of Minneapolis
In December of 2011, the Minneapolis Downtown Council set out a vision for downtown Minneapolis. They proposed development in downtown, creating new jobs, and attracting many new residents. But they made no mention of equity or reducing disparities.
HIRE Minnesota began engaging the Downtown Council and the city of Minneapolis to tie major public investments with reducing disparities. We have proposed that when the city invests in major development projects, a percentage of that money goes to long-term, sustainable and effective job training and placement programs.
We will continue to make our case that the health of our region is dependent not only on creating new jobs, but also on reducing disparities.
Sullivan Principles for Minnesota
In 1977 Leon Sullivan, a Baptist minister and civil rights leader, created a set of principles for business in South Africa. These principles demanded equal treatment of employees regardless of race, and were designed to directly combat the policies of the apartheid government.
Forty-five years later, HIRE Minnesota is launching its own set of Sullivan Principles to combat the economic apartheid people of color face in this state. We all know the statistics that show the growing disparities in Minnesota. Now is the time for action. HIRE Minnesota’s principles demand more funding for training and placement programs, transparency and accountability, and removal of barriers to employment. We will take these principles to both public and private institutions to ensure both commitment and action from all.