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St. Louis County Hires Chief Diversity Officer

July 26, 2018 - 8:23 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis County recently hired its first-ever "Chief Diversity Officer".

He's 68-year-old Jack Thomas Jr., a St. Louis native who's spent the past decade as director of disadvantaged business enterprises at the Jackson Mississippi airport. He's also worked in a similar role at Lambert Airport.

He began his new role last week.

“We’re trying to change the culture of an organization that has not been concentrated on, they didn’t have dedicated staff which we do now,” he says.

Thomas is currently by himself but hopes to appoint a staff of up to a half-dozen in the near future.

Thomas was hired following a disparity study in 2015 that showed a need to increase minority participation in county contracts. He says the problem isn't a lack of those types of businesses in the area, as some have suggested.

“Businesses are out there. We have to go out there and find them. We have to be open and engaging to them, let them know that they’re participation is not only wanted but valued,” he says.