An Open Letter

                              

Dear California lawmakers,

We are writing to express our strong support for Assembly Concurrent Resolution 125 introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Assemblymember Chris Holden, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove, and Senator Lena Gonzalez. 

California is one of the most diverse states in America – and indeed one of the most diverse places in the world. That diversity makes us strong.    

However, that diversity is not reflected in the make-up of our corporate workforce, indicating that we have more work to do to ensure all Californians have access to economic opportunity, and to ensure California employers have access to tools that can help them become more diverse. 

California is not unique when it comes to disparities in hiring and employment.  Despite laws prohibiting employment discrimination, a 2017 study found that hiring discrimination against black workers in the U.S. has not declined in the last quarter century – and has declined just slightly for Latinx workers. Since 1990, white applicants received, on average, 36% more callbacks than black applicants and 24% more callbacks than Latinx applicants with identical resumés. Meanwhile, standardized testing has been proven to identify qualified candidates, but leads to biased outcomes.

In addition, the average recruiter spends just five to seven seconds reviewing a resumé. 250 people on average apply for every corporate job opening, but only about 6 people are called back. Study after study shows us that the lucky few thatmake it past the velvet rope are likely to do so because of superficial details like the prestige of a university, social club, or previous firm. These candidates are more likely to come from wealthier, whiter backgrounds with a stronger network of connections. This status quo doesn’t just fail job applicants – it fails employers too. An astonishing 50% of new hires are either fired or require significantly more training than anticipated within the first 18 months.

Silicon Valley, a beacon for innovation and progress around the world, is no stranger to this reality. When you peek under the hood and see the demographics of people working for the top Silicon Valley companies, just 3.3% of the workforce is Black; 6.6% is Hispanic, 36.7% are women.  

There are many corporate leaders that are genuinely committed to creating more diverse and inclusive workforces. But their HR departments don’t have the resources to carefully review every candidate, however qualified they may be. 

New technologies exist that – once they have been carefully tested to remove the potential for bias – have real potential to efficiently review all job candidates and identify those most qualified. Because these technologies can be built to be bias-free, they also open up hiring and promotion pipelines to women and minority candidates. But there are no standards governing these technologies. 

We support Fair Hiring Resolution, which calls on all lawmakers to put forward policies.

We have seen California make great strides with the recent bans on discrimination based on hairstyle and salary history. We urge you to make discrimination in hiring the next pillar to fall. 

Sincerely, 

Faith Bautista, Executive Director, National Diversity Coalition

Julian Canete, CEO, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Alexis Harrigan, Director of State Government Affairs, Code.org

Kish Rajan, Chief Evangelist, Cal Innovates

Frida Polli, PhD, CEO and co-founder, pymetrics

Courtney Jensen, Executive Director, California and the Southwest, TechNet

Tara Lynn Gray, Chief Executive Officer, Fresno Black Chamber of Commerce

Rev. Shane Harris, Founder and President, Peoples Alliance For Justice

Oscar Ayón, President & CEO, Unidos Por La Musíca

Hardy Brown, Founder & Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media

Cassandra Jennings, CEO, Greater Sacramento Urban League

Former Assemblymember Cheryl Brown (D, San Bernardino)

Karen Scott, Executive Director, First 5 San Bernardino

Pastor Eddie Anderson, McCarty Memorial Christian Church

Dr. Willie Blair, State PresidentBlack American Political Association of California (BAPAC)

Connor Strobel, President, UC Graduate and Professional Council

Sandy Cajas, President & CEO, Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Harry Grammer, Founder, New Earth

Jessica Quintana, Executive Director, Centro CHA

Dr. Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, President & CEO, Children’s Fund

Maria “Alex” Alexander, Executive Director, Center for Living and Learning

Homeboy Industries

Santiago Canyon College Associated Student Government

Latin Business Association