Johnson County officials are spending $4,648 on lapel pins and stickers for employees to declare their pronouns, according to emails obtained by The Sentinel.
In response to a question by Johnson County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, Johnson County Director of Financial Management and Administration Brent Christensen — who describes himself on his Linkedin page as “the chief financial steward for the County” — told O’Hara the purchases were made, “with county dollars earmarked for diversity” after “feedback from most departments and agencies.”
So at a cost of $4,648.23, the county purchased 400 pins with clutch backs, 400 more with magnet backs and 400 stickers so that employees can use “proper pronouns.”
This, Christensen said, was in the name of combatting “discrimination.”
“Consistent with the County’s obligation to provide a workplace free from unlawful discrimination, as well as the Board’s policy to provide a work environment in which all persons are treated with respect, the county has purchased pins and stickers that employees may elect to wear while working to ensure they are identified by the proper pronoun,” he wrote. “County-provided lapel pins and stickers were created to meet county brand standards and create a standardized process of pronoun usage similar to the email signature used by some today.”
How the lapel pins and stickers are going to be distributed is up in the air.
“The pins and lapels are not yet in use, as the process to request them is still being developed by Human Resources and the VIBE Advisory Team,” Christensen said in the email.
The “VIBE advisory team,” according to the 2021 county manager annual report website, was created in 2021.
“Johnson County Government introduced Voices of Inclusion, Belonging and Equity,” the site reads. “VIBE was created as an internal organizational effort to positively impact the work environment, talent pipeline, county services and greater community through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.”