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OIG Bulletin, October 2021: The OIG’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Community Engagement

The OIG is dedicated to creating a workplace that welcomes, respects and values all people. In addition, the Office believes that it is important for employees to be able to stay engaged with their communities through volunteer service.

Over the past several years, the Office has taken steps to promote these values by creating an internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee, developing two fellowship programs, establishing a community service leave policy and partnering with local organizations to create volunteer opportunities for OIG employees. The Office initiated these programs as a result of a five-year strategic plan developed with input from the entire staff in 2017. The process revealed that OIG employees wanted to recruit a more diverse workforce and to engage more with the communities we serve.

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The OIG’s DEI Committee

In 2020, the OIG established a DEI committee to facilitate conversations about racism, social justice and equity in the Office. The committee hosted a series of events for OIG employees, including presentations about allyship and advocacy, school desegregation in Boston, the 1961 Freedom Rides and disrupting racial bias, and gender identity pronouns. The DEI committee also helps the Office to recruit and retain a diverse and highly skilled workforce. The committee has transformed the Office’s hiring processes through research and training on industry best practices. This approach is yielding an increasingly diverse applicant pool, and as a result, the OIG has hired several highly qualified individuals from diverse backgrounds over the past year.

Diversity Fellowships

In addition, the OIG created two fellowship programs to identify talented candidates for positions in the Office and foster their professional development while increasing the diversity of the Office.

Dr. Frances Burke
Dr. Frances Burke

Dr. Frances Burke Diversity Fellowship for Investigators 

The Dr. Frances Burke Diversity Fellowship for Investigators is a two-year placement that supports individuals from underrepresented populations with demonstrated interests in investigations and public service. The Fellowship’s namesake, Dr. Frances Burke, was a champion for ethics and public service who served on the Ward Commission. Burke Fellows work closely with OIG investigators to evaluate complaints, interview witnesses, prepare document requests and summonses, analyze evidence and draft reports. The first Burke Fellow, who joined the Office in 2019, was later hired as a full-time investigator with the OIG’s Audit, Oversight and Investigations Division. This year, the Office welcomed two new Burke Fellows for the 2021-2023 term.

Justice Geraldine S. Hines
Justice Geraldine S. Hines

Hon. Geraldine S. Hines Legal Diversity Fellowship for Lawyers

The OIG also created the Justice Geraldine S. Hines Legal Diversity Fellowship for Lawyers. This two-year fellowship is named for the Honorable Justice Hines, a longtime advocate for civil rights and the first Black female justice to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Hines Fellow is selected from a pool of soon-to-be or recent law school graduates who show a commitment to diversity and public service. The fellowship helps new attorneys develop core legal skills while assisting with the Office’s investigations, audits, reviews, civil recovery actions and training programs. It also provides fellows with broad exposure to state and municipal government and legal work in the public sector. The OIG’s first Hines Fellow joined the Office in 2020, and the Office is currently accepting applications for the next Hines Fellowship term (2022-2024).

Boston Bar Association Summer Fellow

In 2021, the OIG was honored to host its first Boston Bar Association (BBA) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summer Fellow. BBA Summer Fellows are first- and second-year law school students from historically underrepresented groups who have demonstrated academic success in law school and a commitment to public service and DEI in the legal profession. The Office hopes to continue to host BBA Summer Fellows in the future.

The OIG’s Commitment to Community Service

OIG employees volunteering at Cradles to Crayons
OIG employees volunteering at Cradles to Crayons

The OIG also encourages its employees to participate in community service activities. Since 2013, the OIG has partnered with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to support its Wonderfund gift drive, which collects holiday gifts for children in DCF custody. In 2020 alone, 35 OIG employees provided holiday toys and clothing for 53 children.

Over the past two years, the Office has expanded its commitment to community engagement. In 2019, the OIG organized an Office-wide volunteer event at Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit organization that provides resources to children and families living in poverty. The following year, based on the success of that service event and the needs exposed by the COVID-19 public health emergency, the OIG developed a Community Service Leave policy that enables employees to use up to 7.5 hours of work time each month to donate blood or volunteer their time at an approved non-profit organization or public agency.

Wrapped gifts from OIG employees for the DCF Wonderfund gift drive
Wrapped gifts from OIG employees for the DCF Wonderfund gift drive

The Office also made a commitment to volunteer in the Boston Public School system (BPS) in 2020. The OIG piloted a service project with the non-profit organization Boston Partners in Education, and five OIG employees served as mentors for BPS students during the 2020-2021 school year. The OIG volunteers met with their students weekly or bi-weekly via videoconference and collaborated with teachers and other personnel to provide academic and social support. The OIG looks forward to continued work with BPS students during the 2021-2022 academic year and beyond.

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Date published: October 25, 2021