February 6, 2019 5:58 pm
Updated: February 6, 2019 6:11 pm

City manager recruitment continues in Hamilton despite concerns of gender equity and diversity

Critics of the process being used to hire Hamilton's next city manager have failed to delay the process.

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The question of whether gender equity and inclusion are reflected within Hamilton’s city manager hiring process has prompted a spirited debate at city hall, but critics have not succeeded in delaying the process.

Hamilton YWCA executive director Denise Christopherson is among those who appeared before the general issues committee on Wednesday with concerns about the process.

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She says the search committee, made up of Mayor Fred Eisenberger and committee chairs Chad Collins, Sam Merulla, Lloyd Ferguson and Maria Pearson, is too restrictive to ensure an “inclusive lens.”

Christopherson argues that “you can’t be what you don’t see.”

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann urged colleagues to step back and place a pause on the hiring process, saying there’s a need to place greater focus on diversity, rather than going into “a spiral about blame and shame.”

Her motion was defeated by committee members 11-3, drawing only support from Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson and Ward 8 Coun. John Paul Danko.

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The hiring process is already well underway and the search committee is scheduled to hold confidential interviews this weekend at a popular conference centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Coun. Pearson says that “to rock the process now,” it would prompt any candidate who is watching this debate to ask, “Do we really want to be at that table?”

A number of city councillors have defended the recruitment process, stressing that is being guided by an experienced female consultant at Rodgers Berndtson, a leading executive search firm.

Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr says it’s an important process to all of us, noting that “we’re not sort of willy-nilly grabbing a stack of resumes.”

Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla adds, “We do have a professional hired who basically covers all of those bases,” in regards to gender equity and diversity. “I trust her judgment.”

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