Bill to Ensure Diversity in California Insurance Has Senate Hearing Today

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

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

SACRAMENTO – This afternoon the Senate Insurance Committee will consider legislation to promote diversity in California’s insurance industry, SB 534, introduced by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). The measure, also strongly supported by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and The Greenlining Institute, would require the largest players in the state’s $310 billion insurance industry to report on their level of contracting with businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans and LGBT individuals. It would also require insurers to report on the diversity of their governing boards and set goals for supplier and board diversity. The measure is modeled on a number of prior, highly successful diversity initiatives based on reporting and transparency.

WHAT: Senate Insurance Committee hearing on SB 534

WHO: Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Department of Insurance Senior Deputy Commissioner and Legislative Director Michael Martinez; President/CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. and Department of Insurance Diversity Task Force member Linda Akutagawa; Golden Gate Business Association board member and Department of Insurance Diversity Task Force LGBT representative Jay Greene; Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace; members of the committee

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 112

WHEN: Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m.

For further background on the bill, see Anthony Galace’s blog post.

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Bill to Ensure Diversity in California Insurance Passes First Senate Committee

SB 534 Would Require Largest Insurers to Report Supplier Diversity and Governing Board Diversity

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

SACRAMENTO – Today the Senate Insurance Committee passed legislation to promote diversity in California’s insurance industry, SB 534, introduced by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). The measure, which was supported by testimony from the California Department of Insurance, members of the department’s Insurance Diversity Task Force and The Greenlining Institute, would require the largest players in the state’s $310 billion insurance industry to report on their level of contracting with businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans and LGBT individuals. It would also require insurers to report on the diversity of their governing boards and set goals for supplier and board diversity.

“SB 534 will ensure that California’s insurance providers think about diversity when they make procurement decisions and choose their boards of directors,” said Greenlining Institute Health Equity Director Anthony Galace. “California leads the nation in diverse-owned businesses, which creates the ideal environment and opportunity to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion among insurance companies and other large businesses.”

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.

SB 534 is modeled on a number of prior, highly successful diversity initiatives based on reporting and transparency, which have stimulated large increases in corporate contracting with California’s diverse businesses. The bill now moves to the Judiciary Committee.

For further background on the bill, see Anthony Galace’s blog post.

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Bill to Maximize Clean Energy Benefits Passes First Committee

AB 961 Directs CPUC to Consider Benefits Like Cleaner Air, Improved Health, Jobs for Underserved Communities 

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

SACRAMENTO — Today the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy passed AB 961, which would require the California Public Utilities Commission to consider “non-energy benefits” – impacts like job creation and improved public health – when evaluating clean energy projects. The bill is sponsored by The Greenlining Institute and backed by a broad array of environmental justice groups, solar developers, environmental groups, and progressive nonprofits.

“California leads the nation in clean energy innovation, but the benefits too often don’t reach low-income communities of color because the Public Utilities Commission never measured how these projects cut pollution, improve community health and boost the economies of underserved communities,” said Greenlining Institute Energy Equity Legal Counsel Madeline Stano. “What gets measured gets done, and this bill will make sure that officials look at the whole picture when they evaluate clean energy projects.”

“Energy efficiency programs have the potential to deliver so many benefits to local communities, especially communities that bear a disproportionate environmental and economic burden,” said Jodi Pincus, Executive Director of the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity. “We’re doing those communities a disservice if we only count the energy benefits and dismiss things like safety, affordability and workforce development.”

“California’s clean energy investments in social and environmental justice communities are highly impactful in providing broad benefits, including increased health and safety, increased resiliency, new economic opportunities, and reduced energy burden for low-income families,” said Stanley Greschner, Chief Policy and Business Development Officer of GRID Alternatives.  “AB 961 ensures these societal benefits will be quantified and measured over time. Doing otherwise, California is selling itself short when it comes to measuring the success of its clean energy investments.”

AB 961 formalizes a recommendation in the California Energy Commission’s unanimously adopted SB 350 Low-Income Barriers Study that the state establish common definitions of “non-energy benefits,” develop standards to measure them, and prioritize projects that promote them in environmental justice communities, the communities that suffer from the worst pollution and economic stagnation.

The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

For further background on AB 961, see Madeline Stano’s recent blog post.

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Oakland Can Step Up Support for Diverse Small Businesses, New Report Says

Small Business Advisory Group Offers Detailed Recommendations

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As Oakland undergoes rapid development and increased gentrification, small businesses – especially those owned by people of color – find themselves in an increasingly challenging environment. In a new white paper, Advancing Racial Equity in the City of Oakland’s Small Business Ecosystem, the Small Business Advisory Group convened by The Greenlining Institute lays out a series of recommendations for how Oakland can help preserve and grow its diverse small business community.

“We commend the city of Oakland for placing racial equity front and center in its 2018-2020 Economic Development Strategy, and for seeking to build wealth in communities of color through entrepreneurship,” said white paper author Sharon Velasquez, Greenlining’s senior economic equity program manager. “The racial wealth gap, built through decades of redlining, will take concerted effort to close. The Small Business Advisory Group hopes its recommendations will jump-start a decisive policy agenda aimed at creating a small business ecosystem where Oakland’s entrepreneurs of color can thrive. We offer the city our partnership for implementation and look forward to convening with the Economic and Workforce Development Department regarding next steps.”

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Prioritize the creation of a thriving economy by investing in the Economic and Workforce Development Department and Business Assistance Center. By ensuring adequate staffing and robust small business supports, the city will advance economic equity by providing entrepreneurs with critical resources for success. The Business Assistance Center urgently needs expanded hours, a revamped website and satellite locations around Oakland.
  • Collect data on the rate of commercial displacement across Oakland. Presently, no comprehensive data set on commercial displacement exists for Oakland that identifies the number of small businesses at risk of being displaced, the number of small businesses of color that have closed, nor the reasons why. In addition, the city should use data collection platforms to better understand the state of local small businesses.
  • Explore the implementation of commercial tenant protections. Though state law limits what can be done in this area, all possibilities should be explored.
  • Align all city plans so they all contain a racial equity lens, in line with the vision of the 2018-2020 Economic Development Strategy and the Race & Equity Ordinance.
  • Expand transparency and community engagement opportunities as the Economic Development Strategy and other strategic plans are implemented. This should include increased outreach to and communication with both individual business owners and Oakland’s ethnic chambers of commerce.

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

FRIDAY: Rep. Barbara Lee, Boots Riley, Aimee Allison Headline Greenlining Economic Summit

Event Marks Official Farewell for Longtime Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar  

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit, “Reclaiming Our Time,” happens Friday, April 26 in Oakland and features a stellar lineup. Speakers and awardees will include U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, acclaimed rapper, activist, producer, screenwriter and film director Boots Riley, She the People founder Aimee Alison, Dream Corps President Vien Truong and many more community leaders exploring how to move America toward true justice and equity.

Each year Greenlining brings together powerful voices for change—grassroots community leaders, nationally known advocates, artists, elected officials and more—for a unique event focusing on how to build a more equitable, just society. More than a conference, Greenlining’s Economic Summit is a unique gathering where innovation, art and activism align. With a theme inspired by Rep. Maxine Waters’ iconic 2017 “reclaiming my time” moment, this year’s Summit will highlight the leaders — especially here in California — who refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice.

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. See Greenlining’s Economic Summit web page for detailed information on the day’s program.

Last year’s Summit sold out, and this year’s is expected to as well. Journalists wishing to attend are asked to RSVP as soon as possible to Bruce Mirken at brucem@greenlining.org.

WHAT: The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit

WHO: Speakers and awardees include rapper/filmmaker Boots Riley, Rep. Barbara Lee, Dream Corps President Vien Truong, She the People founder Aimee Alison, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and more.

WHEN: Friday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (registration opens at 8)

WHERE: Oakland Marriott, Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, California, 94607

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

TOMORROW: Boots Riley, Aimee Allison, Rep. Barbara Lee Headline Greenlining Institute Economic Summit

Event Also Marks Greenlining’s Official Farewell to Longtime President Orson Aguilar

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit, “Reclaiming Our Time,” happens Friday, April 26 in Oakland and features a stellar lineup. With a theme inspired by Rep. Maxine Waters’ iconic 2017 “reclaiming my time” moment, this year’s Summit will highlight the leaders — especially here in California — who refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. Highlights include:

  • An opening discussion moderated by She the People founder Aimee Alison examining how communities are “reclaiming their time” through the Me Too movement, environmental advocacy and more
  • A “fireside chat” featuring acclaimed rapper, activist, producer, screenwriter and film director Boots Riley in conversation powerhouse poet and playwright Chinaka Hodge
  • A luncheon awards ceremony with a keynote address by Lifetime Achievement Award recipient U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee
  • In-depth panel discussions of the racial equity aspects of critical issues such as tech, transportation and banking – including a rare appearance by Aaron Glantz of Reveal, whose landmark reporting on modern redlining just won a Peabody Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist
  • Equity Lab – a unique, interactive workshop in which participants will learn and apply practical tools for advancing racial equity
  • An art sale featuring the work of local artists Dignidad Rebelde and Francis Mead
  • Greenlining’s official farewell to longtime President Orson Aguilar, under whose leadership the organization grew dramatically

Each year Greenlining brings together powerful voices for change—grassroots community leaders, nationally known advocates, artists, elected officials and more—for a unique event focusing on how to build a more equitable, just society. More than a conference, Greenlining’s Economic Summit is a unique gathering where innovation, art and activism align. See Greenlining’s Economic Summit web page for detailed information on the day’s program.

Journalists wishing to attend are asked to RSVP promptly to Bruce Mirken at brucem@greenlining.org.

WHAT: The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit

WHO: Speakers and awardees include rapper/filmmaker Boots Riley, Rep. Barbara Lee, Dream Corps President Vien Truong, She the People founder Aimee Alison, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and many more.

WHEN: Friday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (registration opens at 8)

WHERE: Oakland Marriott, Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, California, 94607

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Greenlining Institute Relieved as Supreme Court Temporarily Stops Census Citizenship Question

Ruling Means Issue Will Likely Come back

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute expressed relief over today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that at least temporarily delayed the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census. Experts overwhelmingly believe that such a question – which has not been asked since 1950 – would reduce response rates among immigrants. Greenlining Institute Interim President Preeti Vissa Kristipati made the following statement:

“The Trump administration sought to use the Census as a partisan tool. A citizenship question would hurt every state and every community where immigrants live, because when immigrant communities are underrepresented and underfunded, all communities suffer. It would lead to an undercount of immigrants, reducing congressional representation for communities with large numbers of immigrant residents and impacting funding for well over 100 federal programs, which base funding levels in part on Census data. Here in California, where over one quarter of our population is foreign-born, we would see major and lasting damage.

“But today’s Supreme Court ruling doesn’t finally settle the issue. And even if the citizenship question is kept off the 2020 Census, at best this is just one step in what will be a long battle – both to stop voter suppression and to end the Trump administration’s relentless war against science and accurate data.”

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

 

Approval of Sprint/T-Mobile Merger “Disappointing,” Greenlining Institute Says

Advocates Fear Larger T-Mobile Will Abandon Low-Income Consumers and Consumers of Color 

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

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute today expressed sharp disappointment at the Justice Department’s decision to okay T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint, but noted that the deal is not yet a sure thing. Attorneys general in 13 states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust suit in June to stop the merger.

“We’re profoundly disappointed at the decision to approve an anti-competitive, anti-consumer merger,” said Greenlining Institute Technology Equity Director Paul Goodman. “This deal does nothing to allay concerns that a larger T-Mobile will abandon low-income consumers and consumers of color. We see no indication that DISH has the ability or incentive to become a meaningful competitor that will serve communities of color.

“Finally, the agreement between T-Mobile and DISH, which they claim solves the problem of removing a major competitor from the market, is incredibly complex, and far beyond the ability of the Department of Justice or the Federal Communications Commission to enforce. Greenlining hopes that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the attorneys general of other states will prevail in their lawsuit to block this harmful, anti-consumer merger and protect communities of color, along with all consumers who will be harmed by this deal.”

In order to alleviate anti-competitive aspects of the merger, the companies agreed to sell off some assets to DISH Network, including prepaid subsidiaries like Boost Mobile, spectrum licenses and retail stores. Consumer advocates widely consider these measures to be inadequate.

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

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

New Research Finds Blind Spots in Assessing Climate Threats in California; Advocates Point to Solutions in Interactive Mapping Tool, Equity Guidebook

Contact:
Jenny Park, jenny@resource-media.org, 415-867-1166
Marie Choi, marie@apen4ej.org, 530-505-1102
Bruce Mirken, brucem@greenlining.org, 415-846-7758

SACRAMENTO — Two new resources from California’s leading environmental justice and equity groups aim to fill critical information gaps for state and local policymakers tasked with making important decisions around building climate resilience. Research from the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) shows a path forward for identifying the people and regions most impacted by climate change, while a guidebook from The Greenlining Institute provides a practical guidebook for implementing an equitable approach to building climate resilience.

“Mapping Resilience: A Blueprint for Thriving in the Face of Climate Disasters,” presents findings and recommendations from APEN researchers, who conducted a careful review of dozens of existing climate threat assessment frameworks. The report finds that while some frameworks show promise in integrating the broad range of social, health, and environmental factors that contribute to climate vulnerability, they are limited by the data’s accessibility to be put to meaningful use by relevant agencies.

“Climate change impacts everyone, but the experience can feel dramatically different depending on who you are and where you live,” said Amee Raval, APEN’s Senior Policy Researcher and principal author of the study. “State and local leaders need an interactive mapping tool that layers all the disparate factors that contribute to climate impacts, so that they can see the full picture of the places and people that face the biggest threats and prioritize their decision-making accordingly.”

Complementing APEN’s research is The Greenlining Institute’s “Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: A Guidebook.” The guidebook serves as an instruction manual on how to make equity real in California’s climate policies, so that resources are directed to those who face the most serious impacts yet have the fewest resources to adapt.

“More people are recognizing that the climate crisis impacts some communities more severely than others, and low-income communities of color are at the top of the list,” said Sona Mohnot, Greenlining Institute Senior Policy Analyst. “But good intentions alone won’t address these injustices. Our guidebook gives policymakers concrete tools to make equity real as we work to cope with climate change.”

Greenlining’s guidebook makes practical recommendations on how to embed equity into climate adaptation policies from the start, from setting goals through implementation and evaluation. It also includes tangible examples from existing policies and grant programs that illustrate what the recommendations would look like in practice, providing an equity report card on recent California climate policy.

“Policymakers need to recognize that communities are the best experts on their own needs,” Mohnot said. “That means officials need to not just hear community voices; they need to give them real power at every stage, from planning to implementation.”

Recent events in California point to how climate change can act as a threat multiplier that magnifies the enormous differences in zip codes, income, race, immigration status, and other indicators that impact an individual’s ability to cope and recover from climate disasters. In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire, undocumented farmworkers in Oxnard didn’t have paid leave and continued to work in the fields amid dangerous air pollution levels without protective masks.

Despite the current shortcomings in building California’s climate resilience, researchers point to promising signs that the recommended climate threat assessment framework is well within reach. “We already have the building blocks we need to build a user-friendly, comprehensive mapping tool,” said Raval. “Many of the climate vulnerability indicators are already being used across several platforms that just need to be brought under one actionable format.”

“Community-led policy and planning is core to our vision for healthy, thriving, and resilient communities for all,” says Louise Bedsworth of the California Strategic Growth Council, who served on the Advisory Committee for the Making Equity Real guidebook. “Resources like these can help inform program development to achieve resilience outcomes.”

The full reports are accessible online:

 

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