Diversity Index (Council Key Result Indicator#15)
Olathe is an increasingly diverse community in population size and make-up. With growth comes the challenge of nurturing a sense of community among citizens. Olathe aims to be a model city for inclusion of all populations — a community where engaged residents, in partnership with a responsive City government, work together towards “One Olathe” where all can thrive. Olathe’s multi-faceted approach to diversity includes outreach, advocacy and education that promotes partnerships among community organizations, businesses, government and citizens.
The City’s growth continues to present opportunities for the Human Relations Commission (OHRC), Persons with Disability Advisory Board (PDAB) and City departments to address the changing needs of the community. These groups work year-round to encourage dialogue about differences and to present at community events that honor and celebrate diversity. Events such as the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, Community Awards recognition, an employment resource fair for the disabled community and more continue to exemplify the City’s strong community partnerships and commitment to awareness and understanding.
Staff have developed a Diversity Index that measures components of the DirectionFinder® citizen survey in a number of areas relevant to our diversity initiatives.
Responses to the following measures are included in the calculation of this index:
- Quality of Service Provided by the City for Persons who are deaf or hearing impaired
- Quality of Service Provided by the City for non-English speaking persons
- Quality of Service Provided by the City for Persons with limited physical mobility
- Quality of Service Provided by the City for Seniors
- Quality of Service Provided by the City for Persons with disabilities
Many opportunities exist for the City of Olathe to enhance its community engagement practices and we continue to explore ways to expand diversity measurement.
Since the initial creation of this index in 2008, diversity inclusivity needs, expectations and resources for related programs, practices and services have continued to grow. The target of 110 is unchanged from last year when it was significantly elevated from a prior baseline of 100. While the target was exceeded in 2016, external national factors may negatively impact this score in the future. Similarly, after a slight downward slip following record high levels in 2015, the current target level achieves consistency while continuing to promote a high, yet realistic standard in this area.
Olathe’s Direction Finder Diversity Index reflects citizen satisfaction with service quality provided to persons with physical and general disabilities as well as residents with hearing impairment and seniors. It is more aptly a Disability Index measuring satisfaction in service quality to people with disabilities instead of diversity indicators such as race, ethnicity or economic status.
While there has not been a statistically significant shift in the quarterly numbers of Satisfied Diversity Index respondents, data trends do show a slight migration among the number of Very Satisfied respondents. Modest growth can be seen in the Neutral and Dissatisfied categories. However, it remains notable the aggregated Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied categories do not exceed 10 percent of respondents. Similarly, most respondents, consistent at about 93 percent each quarter, indicated Neutrality or Satisfaction.
To better assess factors influencing lowered scores, understanding of current programs and overall Diversity Index perceptions, the City will continue to gain perspective from citizens in the coming year around this subject. This year, Olathe will also update its American Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan for the first time since 1995. This effort will identify service gaps for disabled populations, including City communication, program inclusion and facility access opportunities. The resulting plan will prioritize enhancements across Departments and include staff education on ADA obligations and best practices.
Similarly, it is likely there continues to be limited awareness of the City’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board (PDAB). Established as an adjunct to Olathe’s Human Relations Commission and now an independent body, PDAB includes disabled and able-bodied Council-appointed members dedicated to empowering, supporting and promoting an accessible community for all citizens. PDAB conducts annual outreach to include cohosting Disability Mentoring Day which prepares more than 200 disabled job seekers for local employment through interview skills training and resume review. PDAB also regularly consults with local developers to offer suggestions for commercial building upgrades that facilitate service to and inclusion of disabled patrons and employees, most recently advising project designers for Olathe’s new Indian Creek Library and the Johnson County Courthouse. Similarly, the group partners with leading disability service organizations such as Inclusion Connections and works to publicly recognize disability heroes through its annual Accessible Community Awards program. PDAB also helped found and continues to sponsor a regional disability expo which presents products, services, sports activities, and an artistic showcase for people with disabilities and their caregivers. As the City embarks upon updating its ADA Transition Plan, PDAB will certainly be involved in the process, engaging community partners as well. Through enhanced communication, we aim to elevate awareness of PDAB’s initiatives and impact throughout the City.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) broadly defines disability diversity to include physical, mental and communication disabilities of varied severities. 2014 SSA data estimates disability diversity prevalence at 27.2 percent across the US. In Olathe, that’s approximately 37,000 people, which underscores the need to fully understand and address the gradual decline in Diversity Index scores from 2016 to 2018.
Meeting Target | Close to Target | Off Target