Danielson Tavares. Photo: City of Boston
By Emmanuel Desir
Danielson Tavares, Boston’s Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), saw the need for his job firsthand. He was aiding a legislator at the State House in 2011 where he learned, as he put it, “There is nothing that politics doesn’t apply to, it applies to everything.” Tavares saw the importance of advocacy and being able to help folks, especially minorities.
After being a legislative aide, Tavares joined the Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration in 2014. He saw this as a chance to stand out in a young administration. He first started as Walsh’s events manager by working as a special assistant to the mayor. Tavares was behind the scenes with Walsh for about nine months. After the CDO position opened up, he was eager to accept the role.
With his diverse background, Tavares as CDO has worked with the mayor to help achieve the goal of a diverse and inclusive workforce in the city. Upon arrival, the city’s workforce of 18,000 was only 37 percent people of color.
Now, “with about 50 percent of the staff being made up of people of color, the Walsh administration has become the most diverse in the city’s history,” says Tavares. Under Walsh, the city’s workforce has risen to 44 percent people of color. According to Tavares, the administration has also diversified the police and fire departments.
The Walsh administration introduced an Interactive Employee Dashboard which monitors each department to see if they are meeting their requirement of recruiting a diverse workforce. According to Tavares, the most intriguing part of being a diversity officer is working with each department to see if they are meeting his goals. If numbers drop, these departments have to explain to his office why. Tavares said the dashboard updates quarterly with reports from each city department.
To Tavares, the hardest part of this endeavor is working with speciality fields such as engineering, where unfortunately there is a lack of minority candidates competing for these jobs.
For Tavares, the most encouraging aspect about his job is when a diversity candidate is hired. They tell their friends, which causes a snowball effect, getting more minorities to apply for jobs with the city of Boston.
“The job of CDO is new, and as the number of CDO increase across the country with the current rhetoric in the country right now, it is important now, more than ever, to realize that race is a real issue.” says Tavares.
Tavares’ favorite games are chess, risk and monopoly. He uses the strategies in these games to know when and when not to strike.
“There is a lot of strategy involved in knowing how to advocate. It helps me to build coalitions, alliances and knowing when to take your losses,” he said. “I incorporate these losses as valuable sacrifices when looking at the big picture, using them to gain trust in these coalitions and alliances.”