State Assembly Initiates Call For Data On Diversity Of Tech Sector

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy (JEDE) is releasing a Request for Information (RFI) on the issue of diversity within the workforce and business ownership structure of high technology-based industries in California.

"While Latinos comprise the largest population group in California, we remain significantly underrepresented in technology fields from workforce, to boardrooms, to start-up firms," said Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Chair of JEDE and policy lead on this issue for the California Latino Legislative Caucus.  "Decades of underinvestment in education and career development have resulted in a digital divide that threatens the long-term economic growth of the state."

This RFI is supported by the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the California Legislative Black Caucus, California Legislative Women's Caucus, and Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.  Workforce diversity is a priority issue for each of these Caucuses.  The RFI will provide foundational information for the Caucuses to continue this work.

Assembly Member Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), the policy lead on diversity within the technology sector for the California Legislative Black Caucus, said:

"California is home to thousands of innovative high-tech companies and more are starting up every day across our state. We have to make sure that we are taking full advantage of this remarkable opportunity by tapping into the diversity our state has to offer. We must utilize all qualified individuals, no matter what they look like or who they are. This will only improve and grow the thousands of successful innovative high-tech companies in California.

I applaud the efforts of the companies that have already established their own diversity policies and programs, but more needs to be done. A greater investment in diversity is the wisest investment our state and businesses can make and there is no better time than now to put a down payment on diversity."

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus adds their support for the release of the RFI.  “Given that women are half our population and in the workforce more than ever before, it’s more important than ever that high-tech companies give women a seat the table. Studies show it isn’t just good for women, it’s also good for companies’ bottom lines,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “With this request, we will get valuable information that will help advance the cause for greater gender diversity in this important California industry.”

Assemblymember Das Williams, Chair of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, said:

"As representatives of California, we have an interest to see what avenues are explored and unexplored in ensuring that the pipeline into tech jobs is accessible to all Californians."

The scope of RFI includes:

  • The composition of the workforce, including race, ethnicity, age, and gender.  
  • Workforce requirements for entry level positions, including educational and skill-level requirements.
  • Workforce development programs established by firms to address the lack of diversity within the workforce, including numbers of participants, outreach, and outcomes.
  • The composition among start-ups and small business vendors within the technology supply chain.
  • The composition of executive management and corporate boards in high technology firms, including race, ethnicity, age, and gender of management and board membership.
  • Recommendations on the types of public policy actions that would facilitate greater participation of underrepresented populations on corporate broads, within entry level, advanced, and senior management positions, as vendors, and within the finance sector serving high-technology firms.

This RFI furthers the JEDE Committee's research agenda.  The Committee has previously held hearings and published reports on the California economy, sponsored a study tour of the Silicon Valley in September 2015, and developed the "Latinos in Technology" panel at the 2016 Policy Conference of the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation.

A significant driver of California's $2.3 trillion economy is the state's technology sector.  Among other distinctions, California leads the nation in terms of having the:  largest number of tech establishments (46,300); largest number of tech workers (1.1 million); largest tech payroll (23% of entire nation's payroll); and highest average tech wage ($139,000).  

Interested parties may submit information to the JEDE Committee between June 1 and August 15, 2016.  More information about the RFO is available through the JEDE Committee website, which will continue to be updated with information through the term of the RFI.