Philly names new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Neferteri Sickout never thought her new job would be easy, but the timing of when she started made it extra hard.

Video Transcript

- From vaccine access to hiring practices across the city, Philadelphia's new permanent Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer has quite a bit on their plate right now. But as Action News race and culture reporter, TaRhonda Thomas, shows us, Neferteri Sickout is ready to make change happen again.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: It's a tough job.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Neferteri Sickout never thought her job would be easy, but the timing of when she started it made it extra.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: Race relations, or racial tensions, played out.

TARHONDA THOMAS: That was in May of 2020 when Sickout was named acting Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the city of Philadelphia. As of this week, that title is permanent.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: Being in this work really allows me the opportunity to dismantle, take a look at some of those policies and procedures, and start to dismantle them.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Sickout says inequities have always existed in Philadelphia, but COVID really exposed them.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: It just, you know, kind of cracked open those pain points for a lot of our communities.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Part of her job, now, increasing access to vaccines.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: Those who may not have the same access and opportunity to get to the vaccine, particularly, I would emphasize for people with disabilities.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Every City Department in Philadelphia will be responsible for looking at their services to root out policies and procedures that lead to inequities.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: 10 departments are working on it this year, then we'll have another 10 the following year.

TARHONDA THOMAS: And jobs could be the key to two of the most far reaching problems in the city, poverty and gun violence.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: So that they do have an opportunity to have a better life.

TARHONDA THOMAS: With calls for justice growing louder over the past year, the city's newest equity expert knows there's a lot of work ahead.

NEFERTERI SICKOUT: It makes the work that much more important.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Another task for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion involves understanding why the Philadelphia Police Department is having such a hard time recruiting diverse candidates. Sickout says they need to figure out where they're losing people in the application process and get them back in order to have a police force that reflects its city. In West Philadelphia, TaRhonda Thomas, Channel 6 Action News.