A new report from MissionSquare Research Institute presents the results of focus groups with local government staff responsible for workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. The research outlines challenges faced, strategies implemented, and outcomes achieved. It also offers practical steps local government leaders can take to start workforce DEI programs.

The focus group findings are detailed in Managing Workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Local Government, Part 2: In Their Own Words. Read the research.

This research follows a May 2022 report on the survey results of local government human resource managers regarding their organization’s DEI program roles, priorities, policies, and other related aspects. A subset of these respondents participated in subsequent focus group interviews conducted in April and May 2022.

The focus groups participants discussed a range of DEI initiatives including: casting a wider net in recruitment campaigns to reach more diverse candidates; reviewing position descriptions to eliminate education or experience requirements that are not relevant to the job duties; redacting names and other personally-identifying information from initial screening of job applications; and designating leaders, committees, employee resource groups, or outside advisors to assist with program implementation.

The focus group participants indicated that significant DEI challenges remain, particularly amid a difficult recruiting market and a charged political environment.  While some of the participants point to key accomplishments, others consider DEI a work in progress, and they continue to analyze data and strengthen their efforts.

As part of the Institute’s ongoing workforce research line, another related report, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Public Service Workforce,” outlines diversity data and trends by public sector occupation as well as research on related policy approaches and is available here.


MissionSquare Research Institute promotes excellence in state and local government and other public service organizations to attract and retain talented employees. The organization identifies leading practices and conducts research on retirement plans, health and wellness benefits, workforce demographics and skill set needs, labor force development, and topics facing the not-for-profit industry and education sector. MissionSquare Research Institute brings together leaders and respected researchers. More information and access to research and publications are available here.