Editor: Loudoun County installed its first chief equity officer on July 8, 2021. The officer’s task was to identify and eliminate institutional practices that perpetuated or contributed to racial and social disparities.
On July 1, 2022, I emailed the chief equity officer regarding diversity, equity and inclusion concerns that I had as an employee at the Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center. The JDC has four Black supervisors and the majority of its frontline workers are people of color. I emailed the equity officer because I had received information that a JDC supervisor or administrator had been advising employees not to join a union. This was troubling because state and county legislation had authorized Loudoun workers to unionize, and this sort of intimidation would effectively marginalize the JDC staff, many of whom are minorities.
I did not receive a response from our equity officer and I followed up with a phone call and left a message with his assistant. I followed up with another email in mid-July and was notified that the equity oficer would be on vacation until Aug. 1. My kids started school today in Loudoun—and still no response.
It is now difficult for me to attend and respect any mandatory trainings from the chief equity office when it seems to be just a decorative ornament on the county’s organizational tree. I estimate that we the taxpayers fork over about $120,000 a year for the chief equity officer, plus benefits. And there is the equity specialist position that is still open.
Many of us, for many years, have fought these battles for unions and equity alone, without any support from HR or a diversity office. I will continue the fight, but is there really any justification for a chief equity officer who cannot answer a call for help? And can I get a refund of a portion of the county taxes I paid towards the equity office? It can become part of my inflation reduction plan.
Jomar Untalan Leesburg