Hamilton County Community Foundation to fund implicit bias training for city

The City of Noblesville is taking steps to further enhance diversity efforts by providing diversity sensitivity and implicit bias training for its civilian workforce. Whether hiring new employees, evaluating a zoning change, plowing a street or staffing an event – when it comes to taxpayer services, the message from the city is clear:

“We respect everyone and welcome all,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear. “As our community has grown and become more diverse, we must do more to prevent discrimination and ensure everyone has the same opportunity to grow and thrive in Noblesville.”

Funded through a grant awarded to the city by the Hamilton County Community Foundation, training sessions will include 200 civilian employees. Meanwhile, training to prevent racial stereotyping for its approximately 90 sworn offices of the Noblesville Police Department will continue as conducted during NPD’s semi-annual accreditation process.

Once this initial round of training is complete, the city will look for other ways to continue building greater education and awareness in 2020 and beyond.

“The City of Noblesville is making a powerful statement by committing its staff to implicit bias training,” said Tom Kilian, president of Hamilton County Community Foundation. “We all have implicit biases. Recognizing these biases is the first step in changing systems and policies that hold people back. We are proud to support the city’s efforts to create a more inclusive city for everyone.”

Conducting the training will be Toni Neely, an experienced speaker and trainer on diversity and inclusion who has worked with such organizations as Eli Lilly, Honda, Wellpoint, Ivy Tech Community College and Hamilton County Parks.

Neely came to the city’s attention during a Noblesville Chamber luncheon in February where she led a discussion on the business case for diversity.

“Training for unconscious bias requires employees to get out of their comfort zone, to explore their beliefs with a fresh perspective and become more self-aware so they can better manage their behavior in the workplace,” said Neely. “I commend the City of Noblesville employees for their commitment to learning and growing in this area.”

What led the city to incorporate implicit bias training was the work begun by the Noblesville Diversity Coalition.

In 2018, Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer called together a group of concerned citizens, business owners, leaders of faith-based organizations and representatives from Noblesville Schools, Noblesville Chamber and the city. Their goal? To advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, and ultimately, create a community that respects and values all individuals through bold community conversation, educational opportunities and civic action.

Since forming, the NDC has led several community forums on diversity and inclusion, and participated in events such as the Cultural Celebration in downtown organized with SERVE Noblesville. Members also joined a statewide, bipartisan effort to impose stronger sentencing for crimes based on bias.

“The conversations that have started within the community and around the family dinner table have helped people better understand a problem that wasn’t being addressed locally on this scale,” said Noblesville Deputy Mayor Steve Cooke, and a member of NDC. “We felt it was important to have this conversation within City Hall as well and we thank the Hamilton County Community Foundation for supporting our efforts with this grant.”