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Democratic legislators in California are pushing to establish diversity audits of gubernatorial appointments.
Such audits would occur with the passage of their proposed legislation: Senate Bill 702, which would require an annual report on the demographics of individuals appointed by the governor to serve on the over 400 boards and commissions in the state. The annual diversity audits would include an appointee’s age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability status, race, region, party affiliation, veteran status, and sexual orientation.
The bill is steadily advancing; it passed out of committee last week.
State Senator Monique Limón introduced the bill. She held a press conference with the California Senate Democrats on Wednesday to advocate for the legislation’s passage.
Limón said during the press conference that the goal of the bill is to reach equity in appointments and “achieve a California that looks like us.”
“I truly hope that this year, the governor will agree that the collection of gubernatorial appointee demographic data is a critical step to achieve and maintain geographic, gender, and ethnic equity at the executive level,” said Limón.
Limón predicted that the audits would directly result in greater diversity in gubernatorial appointments.
Disparities in representation at the top level aren’t only found in private firms but also at the state level.
— Senator Monique Limón (@MoniqueLimonCA) August 31, 2023
Also present at Wednesday’s press conference were representatives of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), who sponsored the press conference, as well as the University of California, Los Angeles Latino Policy & Politics Institute Researchers (UCLA LPPI), the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Although Limón expressed confidence in the ability of both chambers to pass the bill, she told reporters that she wasn’t sure whether the governor would support it.
Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a version of the bill during the last legislative session in 2021. That version was more expansive in its requirements than the current version; it required not only the demographics of appointed individuals, but the demographics of rejected candidates as well.
That last version of the bill also required the governor to create an 11-member working group of community activists and academics last year to “discuss and make recommendations on the most effective way to ensure the state’s leadership on boards and commissions reflects the diversity in age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability status, region, veteran status, and sexual orientation, among other things, that are representative of the state.”
One of the best ways Californians can represent their communities at the state level is through state boards and commissions. Bringing transparency to our gubernatorial appointments ensures California is leading the way, and reflecting our state’s true diversity. pic.twitter.com/qw9yxDVaBK
— Senator Monique Limón (@MoniqueLimonCA) September 6, 2023
The original version of the bill earned the support of many progressive organizations: in addition to HOPE, CAUSE, and UCLA LPPI, the bill had the backing of Action and Equality for Employees with Disabilities (ACSED), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) California Action, Alliance for a Better Community, Asians and Pacific Islanders for LGBTQ Equality (API Equality-LA), California Black Chamber of Commerce, Centro Community Hispanic Association (CHA), Compton Advocates, Courage California, The Campaign for College Opportunity, Latina Coalition Silicon Valley, Latinas Contra Cancer, Latino Corporate Directors Association, Latino Donor Collaborative, Latino Network, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), Los Angeles Urban League, LULAC, Mana de San Diego, MILPA Collective, NALEO Education Fund, St. Joseph Center, UC Student Association, and The Unity Council.