BOSTON (AP) — While the numbers of Latino residents in Boston and the surrounding communities of Somerville and Chelsea are growing, a report released on Tuesday suggests that Hispanics are not well represented in leadership positions in city government.

The authors of the study, commissioned by the advocacy group Greater Boston Latino Network, said increasing diversity at city halls would help government better meet the needs of multi-cultural communities.

"It is clear that government works best when it understands and can effectively act upon the needs of all constituencies," said Miren Uriarte, a University of Massachusetts-Boston researcher. "Lack of representation leads to the lack of knowledge of needs and resources in under-represented groups and ineffective actions to address their concerns."

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said he was appointing the city's first-ever chief diversity officer. Shaun Blugh, currently a recruiter for IMB Development Corp., will be assigned to monitor and encourage diversity in the municipal workforce.

"Even before being sworn in as mayor, I made some very ambitious and serious promises about increasing diversity across our workforce and ensuring that city government reflects the people we represent," Walsh said in the statement announcing the appointment of Blugh and of Freda Brasfield as deputy chief diversity officer.

They will lead a team that will, among other things, evaluate the city's hiring systems, identify potential talent and establish benchmarks to measure progress in achieving diversity, Walsh said.

The report noted that while one in every six Boston residents is Latino, only one Hispanic serves in Walsh's 13-member cabinet and Latinos account for only 7 percent of city department heads or appointees to boards and commissions.

In Somerville, where 10 percent of the population is Latino, Hispanics make up only 2 percent of leadership positions at City Hall.

In Chelsea, a city just north of Boston, Latinos make up about 60 percent of the population, but represent only 14 percent of the top positions in city government.


Information from: The Boston Globe,