Naperville staff to restart search for employee DEI training services

City staff are restarting their search for a diversity, equity and inclusion trainer for employees after some Naperville City Council members raised questions about contract terms presented earlier this spring.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager Geneace Williams informed city leaders of the change in plans through a memorandum to City Manager Doug Krieger.

In March, the council considered a recommendation from staff to hire Chicago-based Envisioning Equity Work to conduct DEI training. Staff proposed a two-year contract, not to exceed $115,470.

Envisioning Equity Work had been chosen over a dozen other vendors who responded to the city’s request for proposals in August 2023. A selection team evaluated applicants and eventually chose the firm as its top choice.

But council members weren’t entirely sold.

As originally proposed, Envisioning Equity Work would have provided two in-person DEI training courses: one designed for supervisors and managers and another for employees, with council, board and commission members welcome to attend as well.

Questions, however, arose over the scope of services the vendor was going to provide. Concerns included whether courses could be offered on demand and if Naperville could keep training materials after Envisioning Equity’s contract ended.

The latter concern surfaced because per terms of the initially proposed contract, Envisioning Equity would retain control of training materials and produced content.

This stipulation gave a few council members pause as limited access to materials and coursework meant the contracted training wasn’t something the city could offer again on its own, forcing DEI consultant services to be a repeated expense if the city wanted them to continue beyond two years.

Members also questioned whether city-offered DEI educational courses would cover training separately required by the state for law enforcement. According to the Illinois Police Training Act, there are minimum in-service training requirements that a law enforcement officer in the state must complete every three years. Among the topics that need to be covered are cultural competency, implicit bias, and racial and ethnic sensitivity.

The council ultimately tabled the matter on a 5-4 vote so staff could address qualms and return with a more detailed plan. The item, however, was again tabled in April and had been scheduled for review at the council’s May 21 meeting.

But in her memo last week, Williams said it had been decided that a new request for proposals would be sought because the original didn’t adequately capture what the city wants out of DEI training, which is more clear now. Envisioning Equity was no longer a good fit for the city’s needs, she said.

“Through the city council questions and internal discussions, we have a more refined scope of work than when the initial RFP was issued,” Williams wrote in her memo.

A new proposal request will include video-based DEI training that the city could own once it is developed.

In a call Monday, Williams said work on the revamped proposal is already underway. With the city’s vision better fleshed out, the idea is to find a vendor that can deliver DEI training in a video format that employees could access and complete at any time on any day, she said.

Whether training, whoever provides it, will satisfy police requirements has yet to be answered. Williams said that isn’t something staff will address until after the city selects a specific vendor and training method.

Asked when work would be awarded from this second RFP, Williams said she couldn’t say. But she did reiterate that, “We — internally — certainly believe that this is important work, which is why we are refocusing and doing (another RFP) because we believe DEI training and training our employees is extremely important.”