Carol Isen has been acting director of the Department of Human Resources since October. <ins>(Courtesy SFGOV)</ins>

Carol Isen has been acting director of the Department of Human Resources since October. (Courtesy SFGOV)

Breed’s pick for human resources head opposed by Black employees group

Acting Director Carol Isen would be first openly LGBT individual to serve in the role if confirmed

Mayor London Breed nominated Carol Isen Tuesday to serve as The City’s Human Resources director.

However, a group representing Black city employees has come out against Isen, who has served as acting director since October, and is asking the Board of Supervisors to oppose her appointment.

The Board is required to confirm Isen’s appointment to lead the department, which provides human resource services to about 60 city departments with a workforce of more than 38,000 employees.

“I’m confident that Carol is the right person to lead the department and that she will make sure our employees are supported and that we maintain a workforce that is diverse and inclusive,” Breed said in a statement.

The department has faced allegations of discrimination in recent years against Black employees over hiring, promotions and complaints. Late last year, one employee with the department resigned after allegedly lying to a Black employee about the status of their Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.

Board President Shamann Walton introduced a resolution last year calling for oversight into the EEO complaints, which said that “the Black Employee Alliance and Coalition Against Anti-Blackness have raised these concerns of a poorly ran Department of Human Resources for years.”

In November, Breed and Isen announced The City’s workplace policies and practices related to claims of bias, harassment, discrimination and retaliation would undergo an independent review by William Gould, a Stanford Law School professor.

Isen promised in a statement to “take the bold action necessary to grow our relationships with the community, expand our partnerships with departments and to ensure improved culture, fairness, consistency and excellence in human resources for all city employees.”

In a letter sent to Breed and members of the Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon, the Black Employees Association and Coalition Against Anti-Blackness said it had been contacted by more than 30 of its members with concerns in the time since the appointment was announced.

“We feel it important to convey to you that the appointment of Carol Isen, as the permanent director of human resources, is one that we do not agree with,” the group wrote, noting that it had previously expressed those concerns in a letter to the Civil Service Commission.

The group said it hoped for a leader with “experience beyond the public sector context, legal expertise, and someone with life experience from a diverse demographic background with proven experience of solving inequitable workforce issues.”

“This decision does not reinforce hope or restore broken trust of Black employees who have continued to labor for change,” the group wrote. “We do not foresee or anticipate any meaningful changes or differences in leadership under Director Isen’s leadership, then that of her predecessor, former HR Director Micki Callahan.”

If confirmed, Isen would be the first openly LGBT individual to serve in the role. She previously served as Chief Labor Relations Director for San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

Her nomination drew support from the San Francisco Labor Council’s interim executive director Kim Tavaglione.

“We look forward to partnering with Ms. Isen on one of our top priorities — reforming EEO policies and processes to better serve employees,” Tavaglione said in a statement. “City workers deserve fair and transparent leadership at the head of this important agency, Carol Isen is that leader.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with additional information and comment.

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