TEMPLE, Texas — The City of Temple is taking steps to address its policies on diversity, equity and inclusion. They've put together a commission that will consider whether to hire an outside firm that specializes in DEI initiatives.
The firm is called The Nova collective. According to its website, the Chicago based company is a women-owned consulting group that helps organizations give everyone an equitable opportunity to succeed.
If hired, Nova would evaluate the City Council, conduct a City employee survey, and look into Temple's strategic planning. The city says Nova would focus only on Temple as an employer and service provider
"The City will get some strategy and ideas of how we as an organization can be an employer of choice," Communications and Public Relations Manager for the City Kiara Nowlin, said. "We want to make sure our employees can be as successful as possible, because that's how our organization is going to operate optimally."
Community members that are for the initiative say it could bring more representation to Temple.
"To have somebody feel seen, to have someone feel validated, to have someone know they're not by themselves is liberating in itself," Temple community member, Takenya Battle, said.
Temple Community Member and business owner, Marquita Frank, said she doesn't feel as represented as she would like to be.
"I feel like I would be helpful to have more diversity and inclusion, only because you can get really good insight as to what is going on in the minds of minorities," Frank said.
Others, like Temple community member Rayford Brown, are opposed to the City bringing in The Nova Collective.
"We have the same goal, except they're lying they're goal is division," Brown said.
Brown and many others opposed to the DEI project have pointed to a video on the Nova Collective Facebook page that features a person in drag talking about how it has helped them to describe what their gender identity is.
Brown said those in drag and in the LGBTQ+ community don't meet Christian values.
Nowlin said anyone who is in support or opposed to Nova can share their opinions at open City council meetings.
"They can come and publicly share their thoughts and our city council will take their thoughts into consideration," Nowlin said.
Those opposed have voiced their concerns, like at the July 7 Temple City Council meeting, also shared publicly to YouTube.
"This commission, it's a diversity committee, but it's not representing diversity," said Temple citizen, Carole Owen. "I know it was stated that it is to represent minorities, but there are two large communities that are not given a seat at the table."
Owen went on to say there is a seat for women but not men.
"There is no seat for our men, the men's community, and men and boys are under great attack in our culture now," Owen said.
Owen also expressed concern about their not being someone from the white community on the committee.
"There's one very large group of people of color which are not represented and that is the concerns of the white community," Owen said.
Another community member stated said he believes the Nova Collective is a Marxist organization.
"Our concern is that we're inviting a trojan horse into our City that demoralizes us into Marxist ideals," said Joe Goodson.
Frank has a response to those opposed to City Council hiring in The Nova Collective.
"I would tell them, take a walk in my shoes," Frank said. "There are little things that people probably don't realize happen on a daily basis, no not all of it is probably because of the color of my skin, but some of it has to do with not being acknowledged."
As for Battle, she hopes that if this passes, the City of Temple will create more diverse organizations.
"And if the City could ramp up a little bit more with programs that allow people to just be themselves, I would 100 percent get behind that," Battle said.
The committee was scheduled to meet again on August 2. They will vote on whether to recommend that the city move forward with Nova. It would then be up to the full city council to give it final approval.