Cable Companies Fail to Hire Minority-Owned Suppliers, New Report Finds

Comcast, Cox Communications Both Get “F” Grades in Greenlining Supplier Diversity Report Card  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Utility, telecommunications and water companies regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission continue to report overall growth in contracting with suppliers owned by people of color, women, disabled veterans and LGBT people, reports The Greenlining Institute in its latest Supplier Diversity Report Card. Still, some companies lagged, and results for particular groups were decidedly mixed.

Key findings of the report, compiled from 2018 data reported to the CPUC in 2019, include:

  • Comcast trails all other regulated companies in contracting with Minority Business Enterprises. Just 3.99 percent of Comcast’s contract dollars went to businesses owned by people of color, and its spending with businesses owned by women of color also ranked poorly at just 1.04 percent of total contracts.
  • Verizon Wireless sets the standard for diverse spending, with $290 million (33.92 percent) of its spending going towards businesses owned by people of color — more than 10x the amount of Comcast on diverse suppliers.
  • Although 37 percent of California businesses are owned by women of color, they got just 4.16 percent of contract spending in 2018.

Additional findings include:

  • Most companies improved their percentage of procurement dollars spent with Minority Business Enterprises in 2018, with Verizon Wireless and Sprint topping the rankings.
  • The cable industry continues to neglect supplier diversity, with Comcast (see above) and Cox both receiving grades of “F.”
  • Spending with African American-owned suppliers was a mixed bag, with a few companies’ spending dropping sharply.
  • Contracting with Latino-owned businesses increased at two thirds of companies, but overall levels remained low given the large Latino presence in California.
  • Spending with woman-owned businesses remained relatively flat.
  • Contracting with LGBT-owned businesses grew slightly but remained at generally low levels with a small number of exceptions.

“The groundbreaking supplier diversity efforts taken on by utility companies under the guiding principles of the California Public Utilities Commission’s General Order 156 have helped break the ‘old-boy network’ and create opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “We have seen that when commissioners make this effort a priority, it can generate unprecedented results. If our state is to remain competitive, regulated firms and their spending should reflect the demographics of our state.”

In 2018, the firms analyzed in Greenlining’s Supplier Diversity Report Card spent a combined $39.2 billion with outside contractors. Supplier contracts represent enormous opportunities for a wide variety of businesses owned by people of color and other marginalized groups and include things like construction, transportation, and business and legal services. Greenlining analyzed how much each company spent on Minority Business Enterprises (including African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Latino, and Native American-owned companies) and women-, LGBT- and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises. Overall, the utilities spent a combined $9.2 billion on businesses owned by people of color, a slight improvement over 2017.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Driving a Tesla in the carpool lane: No longer just a perk for the rich

By Rachel Swan
San Francisco Chronicle

For years, driving alone in the carpool lane was a glimmering sign of privilege, limited to owners of flashy new electric cars.

In January, California will extend this benefit to the less affluent. A new state law will enable low-income motorists who purchase secondhand electric vehicles with expired “clean air” stickers — passports into the diamond lanes — to trade them for new stickers that are valid until 2024.

Social justice advocates champion the idea, saying it will expand what was traditionally a rich person’s market, enticing more motorists to choose zero-emission vehicles. The new law applies to people whose household income is 80% of the state median, or lower. Officials at the Department of Motor Vehicles pegged that threshold at $65,777 a year.

“Philosophically, this is really important,” said Joel Levin, executive director of the nonprofit consumer group Plug In America. “There’s a stereotype that electric vehicles are just fancy cars for wealthy people, but we want to make them available to everybody — especially low-income people who drive long distances to work. Used cars are going to be a big part of that story.”

But critics question whether the state should continue offering this perk, which jams traffic in carpool lanes. On some freeways, the crush of plug-in vehicles is slowing down public buses and carpools, putting two environmental strategies in competition. As of August 2018 the DMV had issued 363,309 stickers — mostly in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where many carpool lanes don’t meet the federal standard of moving traffic at 45 mph 90% of the time.

The bill’s author, former state Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, argued that new stickers issued as a result of the law would be offset by other stickers expiring. Yet, if the state is to meet its policy objective of putting more electric vehicles on the road, more will wind up in the carpool lanes.

“These lanes need to function,” said Randy Rentschler, legislative director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which opposed Lara’s bill. Rentschler noted that the purpose of carpool lanes is to move high-occupancy vehicles, not to “incentivize whatever do-gooder behavior we want to incentivize.”

At least one bus rider agreed.

“If you’re riding the bus on Interstate 80 on a weekday, it’s just regular traffic,” said Aswun James, who stepped off an AC Transit 76 bus on a recent Thursday morning. James often takes buses from his home in Richmond to visit friends in Pinole.

Fans of the stickers push back, saying California urgently needs to convert more drivers to electric cars and hybrids. Former Gov. Jerry Brown set a target of 5 million by 2030, a steep climb from 600,000 registered today.

“We know that if we don’t start moving from dirty cars to clean cars, we won’t get there,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, Democrat from San Francisco and owner of an electric Chevy Bolt.

When these vehicles hit the secondary market, lawmakers saw an opportunity to reach a more diverse pool of drivers.

“We want to offer low-income folks the same benefit that was given to people who could afford the technology when it was first introduced,” said Alvaro Sanchez, environmental equity director at The Greenlining Institute. The Oakland-based nonprofit was among several groups that supported Lara’s bill.

Historically, the state and federal government dangled tax breaks and rebates to induce people to buy electric cars. Most of these rewards went to well-heeled consumers who could afford to try the technology in its infancy, and whose income was high enough to benefit from a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Now, with Teslas and BMW hybrids filling the driveways of California’s most prosperous suburbs, the state’s goals have shifted. Policymakers want to broaden electric car ownership to teachers, house cleaners and janitors. And they want to cap subsidies for the wealthy.

To that end, California set income restrictions for rebates: single taxpayers who earn $150,000 or more gross income are no longer eligible, though they still qualify for carpool lane decals. At the same time, air districts throughout the state began offering scrap-and-replace programs, which enable poor people to swap their old, gas-fueled beater cars for a grant to purchase an electric car or hybrid.

Starting next year, working-class drivers can score the most coveted prize of all: entry to the diamond lanes.

“This is great,” said Randi Lewis, a Vallejo resident who would qualify for the new sticker program. Lewis squeaks by on disability payments and previously drove an old, fuel-belching clunker. In June she received a grant from Bay Area Air Quality Management District to buy a 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid, metallic gray with leather seats. The car had a white spot on its bumper where someone had peeled off the old carpool lane decal.

Besides serving as a social equalizer, the new law could also boost sales of used electric cars. Thus, it drew support from an unlikely ally: the automobile industry. Manufacturers and dealers favor the law because it helps salvage the value of used plug-ins that would be hard to sell without the carpool lane stickers.

In the Bay Area, access to fast-moving carpool lanes is the main allure of an electric vehicle, said Leo Beas, operations manager at Rose Motorcars in Castro Valley. For customers with long commutes, the ability to coast along a freeway outweighs other incentives, like saving money on fuel and repairs.

More than half the customers who walk into Rose Motorcars seek a carpool lane decal, Beas said.

He can empathize.

“When I drive to our sister location in Modesto, it can take two or three hours if I leave anytime after 1 p.m.,” he said. “When you’re stuck on Interstate 580 during that commute, and you look over to see cars flying by in the carpool lane — it can be tempting.”

Many people succumb to temptation. Roughly a quarter of carpool lane drivers are actually single motorists in gas-powered cars who are cheating the system, according to studies by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Such figures rankle the electric-car evangelists, who argue that clean-air vehicles are unfairly blamed for crowding the lanes.

Still, state officials want to thin out traffic any way they can. They’ve given clean-air stickers rolling expiration dates to limit the number of people taking advantage of them. The red decals that were doled out in 2018 will become worthless in 2022, while the purple decals released in 2019 will lose their value in 2023. Green and white decals issued before 2017 are already defunct, making those vehicles suitable for resale to a low-income buyer.

For those who participate, the advantages could multiply, Beas said.

“When you’re driving a plug-in, there’s no oil change, no spark plugs, no fuel pumps to worry about — you’re spending a lot less money on maintenance, and then you can drive for Uber or Lyft on the side,” he said. “This is going to be a game-changer.”

Greenlining Institute Announces New Board Co-Chairs, Executive Committee

Founding Co-Chairs Ortensia Lopez and George Dean Step Down After 27 Years  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute is pleased to announce the election of new co-chairs and a new Executive Committee, as founding Co-Chairs Ortensia Lopez and George Dean step down after 27 years of service.

The new executive committee consists of:
Co-Chairs: Robert Apodaca and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk
Treasurer: Tate Hill III
Secretary: Noemi Gallardo
Member at large: Ortensia Lopez

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be a co-founding member of The Greenlining Institute and board co-chair for the past 27 years,” said Ortensia Lopez. “Having been in the nonprofit sector for over 45 years, co-founded organizations and served on many boards, I know that Greenlining has always been a respected icon that ensures that our communities thrive. Greenlining’s Leadership Academy continues to inspire as it trains and develops leaders who continue to work with, for and in our communities.”

This has been a year of momentous change for Greenlining. As co-chairs, Ortensia Lopez and George Dean entrusted Tunua Thrash-Ntuk and Robert Apodaca to head the Transition Committee that culminated in the selection of our new President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann.

“We are incredibly thankful and owe a debt of gratitude to our founding co-chairs George Dean and Ortensia Lopez, who have guided and supported the growth of this organization for the past 27 years,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “Their tireless commitment and investment in the organization and its staff cannot be underestimated. I look forward to working with the new Executive Committee as we continue to expand economic opportunities for communities of color.”

On behalf of Greenlining’s entire staff, Gore-Mann saluted Lopez and Dean for shepherding the organization to where it is today and building the leadership needed to further advance racial equity. “They built the organization and consistently invested in the next generation of leaders – who will now carry our mission forward,” she said.

More about Greenlining’s new co-chairs:

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk: Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is the Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation. She is a seasoned community and economic development practitioner with nearly two decades of experience in both nonprofit and private sectors. Her strengths range from community advocacy to asset and real estate development around neighborhood revitalization. She has already led a number of important urban initiatives throughout Los Angeles County focused on affordable housing, economic and commercial development, as well as transit-oriented projects. Tunua holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from MIT.

Robert Apodaca: Robert J. Apodaca, Founder of ZeZeN Advisors, Inc., has a 45-year professional and civic career that spans both private and public sectors and several industries.  Following his service as Chairman and Trustee of Alameda County Retirement Board (pension fund), he joined the investment industry as a Senior Vice President & Partner of Kennedy Associates, an institutional investor for pension funds. New and retained accounts credited to his leadership included CalPERS, Chicago Transit Authority, San Diego County Retirement Board, Dallas Police & Fire, Kansas City Public Schools, NYC Fire Fighters and International Glass Molders. Apodaca has consistently devoted much time and energy to community service and serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute and the board, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Vital Anti-Redlining Law

Community Reinvestment Act Has Played Critical Role, Greenlining Institute Says

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today the Trump administration’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released a proposal for updating the Community Reinvestment Act, a landmark anti-redlining law first enacted in 1977. The Greenlining Institute urged a stronger, more specific focus on modern forms of redlining that continue to keep communities of color largely locked out of homeownership.

“The CRA has been a strong, and important tool to curb redlining and assure fair access to credit for all, but it needs to be modernized and strengthened,” said Greenlining Institute Senior Economic Equity Program Manager Rawan Elhalaby. “It appears that the Trump administration wants to move in the wrong direction and seeks to weaken this vital law. This would be a serious blow to communities of color, and especially women of color, who are already on the wrong side of the homeownership gap.”

Extensive research has found that the CRA did much to curb redlining, the now-banned practice of denying loans and investment in communities of color. But the Great Recession sent the homeownership gap between Blacks, Whites and nonwhite Hispanics back to pre-CRA levels. Reporting by the investigative news outlet Reveal has shown that lending discrimination, effectively a modern-day form of redlining, persists.

As stated in comments to the OCC last year, The Greenlining Institute and 54-member Greenlining Coalition believe that CRA needs an update, but changes should modernize and maintain the spirit of the law, reflecting persisting needs in low and moderate-income neighborhoods and communities of color as well as changes in our financial systems. Changes should not weaken the law by making it easier for banks to fulfill their CRA obligations. This appears to be the intent of Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who in the past has expressed hostility to the law.

Advocates and organizations representing communities that have been victims of financially discrimination are urged to contact The Greenlining Institute at rawane@greenlining.org to learn more about the fight for financial fairness.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Greenlining Institute Urges Tougher CA Clean Truck Standards

Urges CARB to Take Steps to End “Diesel Death Zones”  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As the California Air Resources Board prepares for a public hearing on its proposed Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation, The Greenlining Institute is urging CARB to greatly strengthen its proposed rule.

“Too many California communities of color live in ‘diesel death zones,’ areas where pollution from heavy-duty trucks leads to high rates of cancer, asthma and heart disease,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Program manager Leslie Aguayo, who will be testifying at the hearing. “Zero-emissions trucks exist today for a variety of uses, and we need a faster transition in order to protect lives and health.”

In comments filed with the board, Greenlining calls CARB’s proposal to have four percent of California’s trucks be zero-emission by 2030 “insufficient,” and urges that the mandate be increased to 15 percent. Longer-term, Greenlining asks CARB to set a target date for when all trucks should be zero-emission, with specific dates for each class of trucks.

Greenlining also urges CARB to accelerate both the inclusion of Class 2b pickup trucks (trucks with a GVWR of 8,501 to 10,000 pounds) and the adoption of fleet purchase requirements.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Governor Signs Bill to Promote Supplier Diversity Across California’s Hospital Industry

AB 962 Requires Hospitals to Report Their Supplier Diversity Starting July 1, 2021

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)
Anthony Galace, Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director, 510-926-4009; 619-633-5185 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Over the weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 962, introduced by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and coauthored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). This bill establishes California’s first-ever reporting requirement for hospitals’ contracting with businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, and LGBT individuals to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. This bill will shed light on the degree to which California’s $230 billion hospital sector contracts  with and outreaches to diverse businesses for various products and services.

“AB 962 is the embodiment of some of the values that are at the core of our state: transparency, economic opportunity, and diversity,” said Assemblymember Burke. “The signing of this measure furthers California’s storied history of promoting opportunity for the communities that comprise the backbone of our economy, and shows that we value diversity across all levels of this state, whether it is in the hospital industry, utility industry, or in the makeup of the legislature. Continuing this history of promoting diversity is crucial because when our diverse communities thrive, all Californians thrive.”

“AB 962 introduces a proven formula to increase diversity,” said Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace. “Requiring hospitals to report their supplier diversity will lead to significant contracting opportunities for diverse businesses, which will directly benefit the populations and communities those businesses serve. We applaud Assemblymember Burke’s leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with hospitals across the state, and with OSHPD to ensure proper implementation of this bill.”

This bill, sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, is modeled on several successful supplier diversity programs overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Insurance. After both programs were enacted, the number of contracts going to diverse businesses skyrocketed, and advocates credit the reporting and transparency requirements created by these programs. They anticipate similar results from AB 962

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

New Research: Moving off of gas in buildings can have significant benefits for low-income communities

Housing and energy experts say building electrification can be a transformative force, but policies must prioritize environmental and social justice communities 

Contact: Sage Welch, Principal at Sunstone Strategies, sage@sunstonestrategies.org, 615.715.6714

OAKLAND, CALIF. – As a wave of local governments move to kickstart a new era of cleaner, healthier all-electric homes and buildings, Equitable Building Electrification: A Framework for Powering Resilient Communities, produced in partnership between The Greenlining Institute and California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition, highlights the benefits the move away from gas in buildings can have for low-income residents as long as policies are designed with communities at their center. 

More than 50 California cities have passed or are considering measures to accelerate all-electric buildings – moves that have been attacked by the gas industry on a number of fronts, including how they may impact low-income Californians. However, this new resource shows that through community-led, intentional policymaking, building electrification can actually help close the clean energy gap and lead to greater affordability for working families in California by putting environmental and social justice communities at the front of the line to access healthier, fossil fuel-free homes and high-quality local jobs that may come from greening the building sector.  

“The gas industry is working overtime to stoke fear around building electrification, and is specifically targeting low-income residents and communities of color with this message,” said Carmelita Miller, an author of the report and legal counsel for The Greenlining Institute. “We’re here to say that getting off of gas will have important benefits for these communities if policies are rolled out with a mission to improve the health and resilience of environmental and social justice communities.”

Data from Energy and Environmental Consulting (E3) shows gas rates rising steeply in California in coming years, as the cost to safely maintain the aging gas system rises following two major disasters and the demand for gas dries up as California moves forward with its clean electricity and climate targets. Those left on gas in coming decades could be looking at massive bill increases. 

“As gas costs increase and we learn more about the detrimental health and climate impacts of burning gas in our homes, we expect many Californians who can afford to will choose to get off gas on their own,” noted Isaac Sevier, co-author of the report and coordinator of California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition. “Policies and support must focus on empowering entire communities who cannot afford new appliances or new homes to access all-electric housing – which is more affordable and will have long-term health benefits.” 

The framework notes that African Americans, Native Americans, immigrant communities of color, low-income communities, and others have long suffered systemic exclusion from housing and job opportunities and it urges electrification policies to address this inequity as the state seeks to transform its building stock.

“There’s no room for polluting gas in California’s future. We also can’t afford another market-based, trickle down clean energy initiative that doesn’t reach low-income people,” said Mad Stano, program director for the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “This framework explains how we can design building electrification policies with community resiliency at their core to help working families and communities of color be first in line to receive benefits and continue leading on climate solutions.”

 The framework offers five steps on how equitable electrification can be implemented: 

  • Assess community needs.
  • Establish community-led decision-making.
  • Develop metrics and a plan for tracking.
  • Ensure funding and program leveraging.
  • Improve outcomes.

“This framework makes it clear that through strategic, targeted and sufficient investment, we can make the transition to a clean energy future equitable,” said David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission. “This is exactly the kind of direction that California agencies and policymakers need as we explore how to cost-effectively reduce emissions from our buildings,  improve public health and increase the quality of life for all Californians – especially those struggling with affordability.”

The framework identifies building electrification as a potential boon for high-quality jobs and careers, including a just transition plan for those who currently depend on gas and other fossil fuels for their livelihood. The inherently local nature of work in the built environment means that, with the right policies and programs, electrification can produce strong careers in communities all across the state. In addition to ensuring that fossil fuel workers have access to good jobs, equitable electrification policies should include workforce development programs that create pathways for people with barriers to employment, so that they too can access good quality electrification jobs.  

“Ultimately, building electrification policies must be designed to improve people’s everyday lives,” said Sevier. “If we focus on people-centered policies, electrification can provide solutions to existing household problems – by providing jobs that can’t be exported, lowering bills, improving health, and making homes more comfortable. Community-led planning initiatives that put local needs at the center will be key.”

 San Joaquin Valley pilot serves as model

The framework emphasizes the importance of community-driven decision making in policy, noting  that community members are the experts on what challenges they face, and how policy can help address them.

The report holds up the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) San Joaquin Valley Disadvantaged Communities Pilot Project as an example of what community-driven policymaking means in practice. The program allowed communities that have never had access to gas infrastructure to work in partnership with an on-the-ground team to identify alternatives that would best suit residents, with a deep focus on long-term engagement and outreach.

Through a process that put community needs center stage, nine host communities were offered a variety of options to move from wood or propane as a heating and cooking source – to electric appliances powered by clean energy – all driven by community-led choices ensuring the result would benefit their daily lives.

“With building electrification policies being in their nascent, developmental phase, local and statewide decisionmakers and advocates have the opportunity to design these policies in a manner that will lift up communities in California that have previously been left behind,” added Miller. “That’s what was achieved in the San Joaquin Valley, and that’s what we want to replicate around the state.” 

Buildings are responsible for more than a quarter of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. To date 10 cities have passed local measures that incentivize all-electric new construction or place restrictions on gas in new buildings. The PUC has undertaken a proceeding to implement SB 1477, which creates incentives for clean heating technologies, and is looking at pathways to cut pollution from buildings using electrification. Under AB 3232, the California Energy Commission is currently studying the most cost-effective pathways to cut pollution from buildings by 40 percent by 2030.

The framework can be found on our website: http://bit.ly/ElectrifyCaNow

ABOUT THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE:

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. Because people of color will be the majority of our population by 2044, America will prosper only if communities of color prosper. The Greenlining Institute advances economic opportunity and empowerment for people of color through advocacy, community and coalition building, research, and leadership development.

ABOUT EEFA:

California’s Energy Efficiency for All coalition is committed to an equitable clean energy future and works to advance healthy, affordable energy solutions for underserved renters at the state, regional, and city levels, with a key focus on expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in frontline communities. To learn more about our state and national partnerships, visit energyefficiencyforall.org/states/california/

 

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining 

Seeking to help people at greatest risk from climate change

CalMatters
By Amee Raval and Sona Mohnot

Californians have faced droughts, heat waves, wildfires and other climate-fueled crises that seem to break records every year. But while climate change impacts everyone, the experience can feel dramatically different depending on who you are and where you live.

Consider a severe heat wave. In an affluent suburb with tree-lined streets and an abundance of air conditioning, most residents might experience a little inconvenience but will largely stay out of serious danger. In an economically struggling farmworker community in the Central Valley, that same heat wave could be deadly

In the aftermath of wildfires in Ventura County, many undocumented farmworkers could not take paid leave and instead continued working in the fields amid dangerous air pollution levels without protective masks.

Power outages present health risks for people who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, not to mention serious mobility challenges for wheelchair users during evacuation orders.

We could go on with examples all day. But simply put: climate change acts as a threat multiplier that magnifies differences in income, race, health, zip codes, immigration status, housing, and other factors that determine whether a community can access the resources needed to cope and recover from climate disasters.

As we work to increase our climate resilience–that is, the ability of communities to adapt and thrive in the face of impacts from climate change–we need to be able to identify the communities that face the biggest threats. And then we need to make sure they have the resources they need. That takes conscious effort.

California is starting to make important decisions about climate resilience, but we’re doing it without the tools we need to identify and assist those most at risk. So our two organizations, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and The Greenlining Institute, have come together to jumpstart the process of creating those tools while we still have time to prepare.

New research from the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, “Mapping Resilience: A Blueprint for Thriving in the Face of Climate Disasters,” points to a critical need for applying an interactive mapping tool that layers all the various social, health and environmental factors that can contribute to, or add protections from, climate threats.

Such a  framework can provide essential information for state and local leaders tasked with making important decisions and appropriately prioritizing communities that face the biggest threats.

The good news is that the climate threat assessment tool we need is well within reach, with many of the needed indicators already in use across dozens of existing frameworks. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together in a streamlined, usable form.

But once we’ve identified the people and places facing the biggest threats, then what? We want to help them prepare, but how do we turn those good intentions into reality? That’s where Greenlining’s research can help.

Greenlining reviewed over 30 California policies and grant programs and spoke to dozens of experts, distilling the findings into “Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Grant Programs and Policies: A Guidebook.”

The Guidebook lays out step-by-step instructions for building climate resilience policies that focus on equity, policies designed to ensure that communities can survive and thrive, even when faced with limited resources.

Greenlining’s framework shows policymakers how to consider not just physical threats like heat and sea level rise, but the factors that make them worse, like income levels and access to health care. And it provides guidance for addressing them while making sure policies center the experience and wisdom of our frontline communities, recognizing that community members have real expertise that even well-intended outsiders lack.

Climate change is here. How we prepare for its impact will determine whether we survive, or even come out thriving. California’s policymakers will need all the help they can get. We offer our research as a humble start.

Amee Raval is Senior Policy Researcher at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, amee@apen4ej.org. Sona Mohnot is Environmental Equity Senior Program Manager at The Greenlining Institutesonam@greenlining.org. They wrote this commentary for CalMatters.

Governor Signs Bill Advancing Insurance Diversity

SB 534 Requires California’s Largest Insurers to Report Their Supplier Diversity and Governing Board Diversity

Contact: Anthony Galace, Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director, 510-926-4009; 619-633-5185 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Governor Newsom signed SB 534, introduced by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and supported by the California Department of Insurance, members of the department’s Insurance Diversity Task Force and The Greenlining Institute. This bill re-establishes a requirement for the largest insurers in California’s $310 billion insurance industry to report their level of contracting with businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, and LGBT individuals. Insurance companies will also be required to survey their board members regarding demographic information and report the demographics of these most senior decision-makers to the Department of Insurance. 

“California insurers should be using their enormous buying power to invest in California’s minority, woman, LGBT, veteran, and disabled veteran owned businesses as well as work towards achieving a governing board that reflects the diverse population in California,” said Commissioner Lara. “Since its inception, the Department’s Diversity Initiative has helped empower diverse businesses to put resources back into their local communities. Thank you to Governor Newsom and Senator Bradford for reauthorizing and expanding this valuable program to help more people and communities throughout the state.”

“Studies have shown that a diverse population is more effective than even a uniform body of experts,” said Senator Bradford. “It is time for the insurance industry to reflect the great diversity of California and the United States. SB 534 makes that possible. Encouraging diverse spending and collecting governance data strengthens our insurance market and by extension its protection of Californians. I am proud to have worked on this measure with Insurance Commissioner Lara and happy to see Governor Newsom share our beliefs on the benefits diversity can bring our state.”

“SB 534 ensures that diversity will be at the forefront of California’s insurance industry,” said Anthony Galace, Health Equity Director at The Greenlining Institute. “We applaud the leadership of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Senator Bradford for pushing this important issue and making this bill a priority.” 

After California first passed supplier diversity reporting requirements for the insurance industry via AB 53 (Solorio, 2012), contracting with diverse businesses skyrocketed by 93 percent between 2012 and2017. SB 534 seeks to build on this trend and further strengthen diverse businesses across the state. Additionally, data collected by the Department of Insurance in 2017 showed that 80 percent of major insurers’ governing board seats were held by men while just 12 percent were held by people of color. Of nearly 2,400 total board seats, only 14 members self-identified as LGBT, while 13 percent of insurance companies reported zero women and 35 percent reported zero persons of color on their boards.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining 

Debra Gore-Mann Named New Leader of The Greenlining Institute

Current CEO of San Francisco Conservation Corps Will Be 1st Woman of Color President in Organization’s 26 Year History

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA –The Greenlining Institute has chosen Debra Gore-Mann to be the racial equity organization’s new president – the third leader in Greenlining’s 26-year history and the first woman to lead the organization.

Gore-Mann has led the San Francisco Conservation Corps – America’s first urban municipal youth corps – for the past four years. Chosen from a large field of outstanding candidates considered over the course of the search, she brings a wealth of nonprofit and business experience to her new position at Greenlining, with a resume that includes experience in investment banking, an engineering degree and an M.B.A. from Stanford. She will assume the post Oct. 1.

Gore-Mann brings a multi-dimensional perspective to the role, having been raised in a low-income, biracial family (African American & Japanese), being the first generation in her family to go to college and part of the first generation to receive a basketball scholarship for women student athletes at Stanford University under Title IX, the federal law requiring gender equity in federally funded college sports. She studied engineering and then joined the Graduate School of Business at Stanford to earn her M.B.A., where she was the only African American woman in a class of 400 graduate students. Her experiences give her a depth of understanding of what it takes to serve historically underserved and underrepresented people.

“We were impressed by Debra’s vision and dynamism,” said Greenlining Board Co-Chair Ortensia Lopez. “She is intimately familiar with seeing change, being change and building community. Greenlining has grown remarkably over the last decade, and the challenges our nation faces are complex. With her wide variety of experience, we believe Debra is the right person to take us to the next level and to bring new energy and excitement to the fight for racial equity in these challenging times.”

“Debra is the right person with the right experience at an important time in the life of our organization,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Transition Committee Co-Chair. “She brings an important intersectional perspective and experience working with the very communities we serve.”

“I think I speak for everyone at The Greenlining Institute in thanking Orson Aguilar for his leadership and tireless dedication to the organization,” Gore-Mann said. “I am humbled to be able to follow such a legacy leader who worked for over 20 years to help build Greenlining into the strong and vibrant organization it is. I am incredibly excited to assume this role, and know that if we stand together, learn together, and educate each other, we will prosper together.”

Begun as an informal, multiethnic coalition of civil rights groups in the 1980s and formally incorporated as an organization in 1993, Greenlining has emerged as a leading advocate for racial equity in a variety of fields, from banking to tech and the fight against climate change. Its Leadership Academy has trained over 1,000 young leaders, and its graduates have taken on leadership positions as elected officials, heads of nonprofit organizations, a sitting California Supreme Court Justice and other influential roles. The Greenlining 360 Center in downtown Oakland has become a hub for grassroots community organizing, regularly hosting a variety of community meetings and events.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining