Groundbreaking Fair Hiring Resolution Led by Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer and Senator Lena Gonzalez Passes Assembly Unanimously on Final Night of Session

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Sacramento – September 17, 2019,)   – In a major step forward to give all California job applicants a fair chance, this morning the California Assembly passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution 125 with unanimous bipartisan support.

 The Fair Hiring Resolution, which was introduced by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-South Los Angeles) and Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Los Angeles County), urges action in finding new technology-driven solutions to the systemic discrimination found in hiring practices used by companies throughout California and the country. 

 The resolution is co-authored by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), and Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). 

“California is one of the most diverse states in the nation. Our diversity is our strength, but corporate executive offices and boardrooms across our state frequently fail to reflect the same diversity. Just look at Silicon Valley as an example. Women make up just 36.7% of the workforce; 3.3% of the workforce is Black; and only 6.6% is Hispanic. That’s unacceptable,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “The Fair Hiring Resolution builds on the important work we’ve done in recent years to fight discrimination in hiring, such as ‘ban the box’ legislation prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history before giving a conditional job offer.”

Specifically, the Fair Hiring Resolution calls on state and federal policymakers to encourage the development and use of new AI and algorithm-based technologies as tools for HR professionals to reduce bias and discrimination in hiring and promotion, while also helping employers more effectively identify qualified talent. 

“There are plenty of well-intentioned corporate leaders who have pledged to make their workforces more diverse,” said Senator Gonzalez. “Time and time again, we see bias in hiring practices or preference given to applicants with the right connections and privilege. For our economy to work, we need to make sure the hiring process is an actual meritocracy. This resolution would help move our state in the right direction.”

Outdated hiring methods such as the traditional resume review or elite campus recruiting programs have been shown to be very poor predictors of potential job success (REF). Standardized testing has been proven to identify qualified candidates, but leads to biased outcomes (REF). In fact, new hires fail almost 50% of the time (REF). Moreover, these practices disproportionately exclude qualified women and minorities from consideration (REF). 

New reporting demonstrates that for the first time, the majority of new hires in their prime working years (25 to 54) are people of color, with women driving this trend (REF). But they are entering a workforce where bias and discrimination are still prevalent. 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 (REF). Meanwhile, standardized testing has been proven to identify qualified candidates, but leads to biased outcomes (REF).

“Study after study has shown us that inclusive workplaces are good for business,” said National Diversity Coalition CEO Faith Bautista. “It is so important that we take every opportunity available to us to open the door for women and people of color in hiring, not just for the people of California but for our business community as well. I’m looking forward to playing a role in this effort.” 

Joining the National Diversity Coalition in campaigning for the Fair Hiring Resolution are the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, TechNet, CALinnovates, Code.Org, California Black Media, People’s Alliance For Justice, Unidos Por La Musíca, Greater Sacramento Urban League, Fresno Black Chamber of Commerce, First 5 San Bernardino, pymetrics, Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC), McCarty Memorial Christian Church, and Retired Assemblymember Cheryl Brown.

The Fair Hiring Resolution urges policymakers to help develop standards to support and oversee new technologies that identify qualified candidates while diversifying talent pipelines. Currently, there are no standards with respect to assessing and preventing the potential introduction of human bias in automated processes.    

The Resolution is the latest effort by California lawmakers to set new precedents in fighting discrimination. This session, it became the first state to ban racial discrimination against people based on natural hairstyles, and saw the introduction of a package of bills requiring implicit bias training for public officials including police officers and judges.

 

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Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park. For more information about Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Sr., please visit 

https://a59.asmdc.org/