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City Receives Two Awards for Outstanding Diversity in an Organization

Recipients nominated by public for promoting, advancing equity and inclusion

Nov. 4, 2021

City of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department (EDD) and Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) are two of only six recipients across Albuquerque for Albuquerque Business First’s Outstanding Diversity in an Organization award in its annual Diverse Business Leader Awards.

“These awards are particularly meaningful because the nominations begin with the public,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “For two of the City’s departments to be honored shows that we are making a tangible difference in our community, that residents recognize our leadership advancing diversity, and that this administration is a model for bringing an equity lens into our workplace.”

Mayor Keller restructured the former Human Rights Office to create the Office of Equity and Inclusion in 2017 to better address racial and ethnic disparities and to develop equity in municipal government. The OEI, which houses the Office of Native American Affairs, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, and Office of African American Affairs, is advancing conversations about race, equity, and inclusion through its culture change initiative which, since 2018, has trained more than 1,500 City employees and community members. In 2018, OEI began analyzing the municipal workforce and providing data and strategies to each department. The goal of the Workforce Diversity Report is to promote a workforce reflective of the constituents it serves.

“To be recognized among other such deserving recipients affirms our efforts, and we are truly honored,” said OEI director Michelle Melendez. “But there is much more work to be done to dismantle systemic barriers so everyone has access to equitable opportunities. We will remain diligent in our goal to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into all City operations and decision-making.”

The EDD has also been strategically focused on closing local racial and gender gaps via new and creative initiatives. The department recently established a Minority Business Development Center to support minority business enterprises; launched a Workforce Development initiative to foster better careers for underrepresented and underemployed workers; and collaborated with the One Albuquerque Fund to dedicate $1 million to support local Black businesses and communities.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with this honor, and proud to see our efforts are having a positive impact on our community,” said EDD interim director Damian R. Lara. “Economic equity is key to significantly increasing Albuquerque’s economic growth, and we’re working to ensure all entrepreneurs have equal opportunities, and fostering a small-business ecosystem that knows no barriers to success.”

Albuquerque Business First has said that to determine the honorees, a panel of outside judges looked at how each nominee promotes DEI initiatives within their organizations and communities, as well as what resources and programs they helped enact or champion to create more equitable workplaces. Find more information about the City of Albuquerque’s DEI efforts at cabq.gov/DEIinAction.