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Assemblymember Holden’s Upward Mobility Act of 2021 Passes First Policy Committee

Published on Thursday, April 29, 2021 | 3:08 pm

Today, Assemblymember Chris Holden’s legislation, the Upward Mobility Act of 2021, Assembly Bill 105 that addresses barriers to upward mobility and inclusion for people of color working in California’s civil services system passed the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement.

“Upward mobility is integral to achieving racial justice, and we should be setting the example,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “The existing systems in place at our own state agencies fail to create inclusive workplace environments, and hinder qualified individuals to move on up within their department simply based on the color of their skin.”

Data from the California Department of Human Resources reports shows that the majority of Non-White civil service personnel are paid a salary in the “$40,000 and below” range, but when the salary range increases, the percentage of Non-White civil servants moving into management positions decreased. The exact opposite takes place for White civil servants.

The Sacramento Bee has published a series of letters written on behalf of Black employees working at state agencies such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with detailed accounts of how Black employees are passed up for promotions over White employees. The problem, however, is not limited upward mobility. In early November, three Black employees at the California Office of Publishing found racial slurs written on cards at their desk.

“We already mandated the private sector to do their part. It’s high time for the state to step up and do theirs,” said Holden.

AB 105 requires diversity on all state boards and commissions that have volunteers. The bill would also reform processes that hinder upward mobility for people of color in the civil service system, giving attention to compliance, the appeals process, and annual parity goals for upward mobility.

In September 2020, California took a bold step to address racial inequity in the private sector when Governor Newsom signed AB 979 (Holden) that requires diversity on corporate boards of corporations based in California – a policy that will help drive upward mobility for people of color.

AB 105 will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Specifically AB 105 would:

• Require the California State Personnel Board (SPB) to establish a process that includes diversity and best practices in each aspect of the design, announcement, and administration of examinations for the establishment of employment lists.

• The bill provides that the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) may develop model upward mobility goals to include race, gender, and LGBTQ as factors to the extent permissible under state and federal equal protection laws.

• Require that CalHR submit within its annual workforce analysis and census report all of the adverse actions taken by departments against employees. It calls for the report to include the type of adverse action, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, if available. The goal is to see if there are patterns of discrimination in the departments.

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