Gov. Tim Walz has chosen Chris Taylor to serve as the state’s new chief inclusion officer.
Taylor, who currently works in a similar position at the Minnesota Historical Society, will be charged with helping state government recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, as well as increase government contracts with diverse businesses.
Taylor says racial disparities are built into systems like state government.
“A lot of the big challenges that we see is the systemic nature of disparities and inequities, privilege that is built into the system that we don’t see every day,” he said. “I think by working to illuminate that and understand that we can start to then acknowledge and address those issues.”
Taylor will work to create job postings in state government that are inclusive, as well as train staff already employed in state agencies to increase cultural competence.
Former DFL Gov. Mark Dayton first established the chief inclusion position in his own office, but Walz has made it an assistant commissioner post within the department of Minnesota Management and Budget. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said that move makes it a permanent position in government that will remain even after their tenure in the executive branch is done.
Taylor’s hire and new role also prompted Walz to express unhappiness with the process behind a recent hire in the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation agency in northeastern Minnesota.
Former DFL legislator Joe Radinovich, who ran unsuccessfully for the 8th District congressional seat last year, was hired in March by IRRR for a six-figure senior manager position after the job was posted for a single day and his name had already appeared on organizational charts.
“The situation with the IRRRB has me very unhappy, I think that’s a nice way I can put this to you,” Walz said.
Walz said he immediately changed the policy to require that all similar positions are posted for at least 21 days.
“Those are the exact types of cases that keep people out, and keep inclusion and equity out of the system,” Walz added. “Because in many cases, if you don’t know the right people, how are you going to get into the job?”
There were 72 applicants for the chief inclusion officer job and three finalists, including Tracey Gibson and Todd Williams. Taylor was the final appointment left in Walz’s administration.