Dear Senator Gonzalez,
We are writing to express our strong support for SB 1241, the Talent Equity for Competitive Hiring bill introduced by 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 strength 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. Part of this work is with employers, empowering California companies to use the tools they need to identify and hire diverse employees.
California’s hiring laws are rooted in decades-old federal anti-discrimination guidelines. While the rules say that hiring assessments should not discriminate against demographic groups, a significant carve-out has made the reality look very different. Under current law, any hiring assessment is permissible if an employer can demonstrate that it is job-related. This essentially enshrines legal bias into the hiring system, so long as it’s not the employer’s specific intent.
Given that our current legal framework offers the strongest protections to biased hiring tools, we should not be surprised 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. Silicon
Valley’s hig- tech sector offers a glaring snapshot of disparities in employment opportunity in California: just 3.3% of the workforce is black; 6.6% is Hispanic, 36.7% are women.
Many California companies are genuinely committed to creating more diverse and inclusive workforces. They want to do the right thing, but our outdated hiring laws make it legally risky.
It is considered safer for employers to use traditional – but biased – assessments or to restrict their candidate pipelines to groups that reflect their incumbent workforce like graduates from prestigious institutions or internal referrals.
To put it simply, if we want to see hiring outcomes improve and ensure more Californians have access to economic opportunity, we must update the law to make it easier for employers to use unbiased assessment tools.
New assessment technologies exist today that have been proven to meet or exceed current standards for predicting potential job success and that can be tested and modified to remove bias. SB 1241 would create clear standards and would provide necessary legal certainty for employers who want to use these newer tools.
When it comes to valuing and promoting diversity, California should lead the nation. We urge you to support SB 1241 and help pave the way for more equitable hiring practices and expanded employment opportunities for communities that have been left behind for too long.
Julian Canete, President & CEO, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
Maria “Alex” Alexander, Executive Director, Center for Living and Learning
Jessica Quintana, Executive Director, Centro CHA
Alexis Harrigan, Director of State Government Affairs, Code.org
Karen Scott, Executive Director, First 5 San Bernardino
Christine Petit, Executive Director, Long Beach Forward
The Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership
Harry Grammer, CEO, & Yana Simone Co-Founder & Executive Director, New Earth
Frida Polli, PhD, CEO and co-founder, pymetrics
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts, Director of Operations, Southeast Community Development Corporation
Blacks in Technology SF/Bay Area
Greater Sacramento Urban League
Shane Harris, People’s Alliance For Justice
Kim Anthony, Urban Philanthropy Institute
Former Assemblymember Cheryl Brown
Hardy Brown, Founder, California Black Media
Maria Brenes, Executive Director, InnerCity Struggle
McCarty Memorial Christian Church
Pat Fong Kushida, President & CEO, California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce
Oscar Ayon, President & CEO, Unidos Por La Musica
Latin Business Association
Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County
In 2019, these organizations supported the successful passage of ACR 125, the Fair Hiring Resolution, which laid the groundwork for SB 1241, The TECH Act: