News Story

Oakland County’s New Chief Diversity Officer To Get Up To $143k

Brooks Patterson got $201,193 a year

Oakland County government appears poised to create a new, high-level position that will “cultivate a welcoming, diverse and inclusive culture throughout all aspects of the County’s internal and external community.” That’s according to a resolution county commissioners will consider on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The position, to be called the county’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, would receive a salary of $106,000-$143,000, placing the person who holds it in the upper pay range of county employees.

Oakland County spokesman Bill Mullan said the newly created position, sought by County Executive David Coulter, would be responsible for amplifying opportunities for underrepresented ethnic and racial minorities in county employment and county-sponsored programs such as economic development ones.

“We want to make sure we are giving everyone a chance,” he said. “Diversity is our strength.”

Mullan said the job description is modeled on one increasingly used as a best practice in both the private sector and in government agencies. According to a memo prepared by Deputy County Executive April Lynch, the diversity officer will “establish a process to achieve accountability and coordination of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to drive positive change in all aspects of the County.”

Oakland County’s population is about 14% black, 8% Asian and 4.2% Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau. Minority employment in county government is currently about 8% among supervisory positions and 15% among nonsupervisory ones, Mullan said.

Mullan said specific job qualifications for the new post will likely be developed after the commission approves the resolution.

It was not immediately clear what authority the diversity director would have over operations not directly under the auspices of the county executive. Some of those operations are under the direction of other elected officials, such as the sheriff and prosecutor.

But whatever experience and academic credentials are established for the office, it will be among the highest-paid in county government. Coulter, appointed by commissioners to the job in April after L. Brooks Patterson died in office, receives a salary of $201,193 a year. The county sheriff, clerk and treasurer all had salaries of $154,797 in 2019. Circuit judge salaries were set at about $145,500.

According to the resolution, the total cost for the new diversity officer, including fringe benefits, could top $180,000 a year but would be offset by reductions in contracted services.