2020 Supplier Diversity Report Card

Uneven Progress in Challenging Times

America’s racial wealth gap was created by deliberate policy choices based on race, and solutions that don’t consider race and ethnicity simply won’t work. As our country tackles problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, from income and wealth inequality to climate change, we must face the origins of these challenges head-on. Historically, when public utilities contracted with outside suppliers, they did so using an “old-boy” network, which denied economic opportunity to businesses owned by people of color and by other historically marginalized groups.

Always on the cutting edge, California and many of the companies that operate here have long recognized that diversity is integral to good business, and that a diverse workforce and diverse procurement investment can help companies venture into new markets and increase shareholder value. Nowhere is this culture more apparent than in the groundbreaking supplier diversity efforts taken on by utility companies under the guiding principles of the California Public Utilities Commission’s General Order 156. The CPUC’s model for promoting supplier diversity in the industries it regulates has withstood the test of time and, when the policy is made a priority by the sitting commissioners, it has generated unprecedented results.

Greenlining’s Supplier Diversity Report Card grades California’s energy, communications and water companies based on the supplier diversity reports the companies file with the California Public Utilities Commission. Our rankings are based on performance and improvement: Grades are primarily determined by the companies’ percentage spending, with adjustments made for significant increases or decreases compared to the previous year.

We break down spending by ethnic categories, as well as minority women-, disabled veteran-, and LGBTQ-owned suppliers. We make recommendations based on what we see in the numbers and what we hear from the companies themselves about their programs and practices. We advocate for supplier diversity because it creates economic gains on all sides: It promotes economic development in diverse communities, and by increasing competition and diversity in the supply chain, generates a better return on investment for companies that meaningfully engage in it.

Summary of Findings

California’s energy, telecommunications and water companies remain at the forefront of supplier diversity achievements, with a “class average” well above their peers nationwide. However, companies could still do more to increase their contracting with diverse suppliers. In 2019, figures reported by the companies to the California Public Utilities Commission show that:

  • Only eight of the 22 companies included in our report improved their percentage of procurement dollars spent with Minority Business Enterprises in 2018. A broad gap remains between high performers and low performers—eight companies’ combined $593 million increase in dollar spending with MBEs offset the combined $372 million decrease by the other 14 companies.
  • With the exception of AT&T California, AT&T Wireless and California American Water, the companies’ spending with Black- Owned Business Enterprises continued to be a challenge. The companies’ combined spending with Black-owned suppliers fell almost 10 percent, while the companies’ combined dollar spending with Black women-owned suppliers dropped almost 37 percent.
  • While the companies’ spending on Asian American/Pacific Islander suppliers remained steady, just half of the companies showed improvement in this category.
  • Less than half of the companies increased their spending with Latino suppliers. Overall dollar spending in this category declined by over $32 million and remains unacceptably low.
  • The companies’ spending with Native American suppliers continued to see improvement, with 50 percent of companies reporting increased spending.
  • The companies’ spending with women-owned suppliers stayed relatively flat in 2019, dropping by almost $13 million. Promisingly, dollar spending with minority women-owned suppliers increased by almost $201 million.
  • The companies’ spending on LGBTQ-owned suppliers remained flat and still has a long way to go.
  • The companies’ spending with disabled veteran-owned suppliers continued to slip.

This year, only two companies (Verizon/MCI and Verizon Wireless) exceeded 30 percent procurement with minority-owned businesses. While their results were inconsistent, the companies spent a combined $9.4 billion with businesses owned by people of color, a $220 million increase over 2018. For the past several years, the water companies have engaged in a joint effort to create data-driven best practices that are showing measurable results. The water companies’ grades reflect this increased commitment.

Report Recommendations

1. Companies must focus on all categories. The companies’ overall performance in 2019 was for the most part adequate, but some categories still need improvement. Companies need to focus specifically on increasing their spending with Latino/Latina- and Black-owned suppliers, particularly Black women-owned suppliers.
2. Companies must address the marketplace availability of suppliers. The companies often report challenges with diverse spending in specific categories of work—for example, line construction and maintenance. This is especially challenging when a category of work with a lack of diverse suppliers constitutes a major portion of a company’s spending. For example, wireless companies often complain that there are no diverse suppliers of telephone handsets, and that they spend more on telephone handsets than any other company. Some companies have implemented successful short- and long-term solutions for this challenge. In the short term, they compensate for low diverse
spending in one category by increasing diverse spending in other categories. To address the problem in the long-term, they need to work with community-based organizations and national certifying organizations to identify diverse suppliers, technical assistance and capacity building for subcontractors, and speaking to investors about investing in diverse companies. All of the companies should be engaging in these best practices.
The contracting needs of specific companies can vary wildly, particularly from sector to sector. For example, a large part of electric utilities’ contracting involves electric line construction and maintenance work. There are, apparently, only two Black-owned contractors in the United States that do this work. While both of them are located in California, only one of them is certified as an MBE. This, of course, makes it difficult for electric utilities to contract with Black-owned suppliers for line construction work. In these instances, it is important for companies to identify, and help build the capacity of, companies that could potentially do the work.
3. Companies must include supplier diversity requirements when issuing Requests for Proposal (RFPs). Some companies reported including supplier diversity requirements in their RFP process (an RFP is, essentially, an invitation to bid on a specific contract). For example, Southern California Edison set a goal that at least 50 percent of bids on outside contracts come from diverse companies (according to the company, it not only achieved, but exceeded that goal, with an impressive 60 percent
of bids coming from diverse companies). Other companies reported imposing supplier diversity requirements on their direct contractors, requiring those direct contractors to identify and work with diverse subcontractors. Unfortunately, some companies do not appear to have implemented these best practices. We encourage them to do so.
4. Companies must plan ahead for supplier diversity spending. Some companies reported large drops in a category as a result of losing a contract with only one supplier, either as a result of a special project ending, a supplier’s closing down, or a supplier’s being acquired by a non-diverse company. Companies must plan early to identify diverse suppliers well in advance of these situations.
5. Supplier diversity programs must evolve to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted companies’ plans—every single company we spoke with described the changes they would have to make in response to the pandemic. We commend the companies for taking steps to ensure that
their employees are healthy and safe and that their customers are not disconnected, and we encourage the companies to take action to provide the same security to their suppliers. Some companies reported planning to reduce or slow their spending in 2020 in response to the pandemic, and some reported having already done so.
Other companies reported plans to increase their spending, especially on contracts for strengthening and resiliency measures for their infrastructure in anticipation of wildfire season. Companies that reduce their spending in 2020 must ensure that diverse businesses do not bear the brunt of those spending reductions. Similarly, companies that increase their spending in 2020 must be vigilant about identifying and working with diverse suppliers.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a surge of demand for personal protective equipment for the companies’ employees, many of whom are essential workers. Many of the companies identified the need for PPE as a supplier diversity opportunity and sought out diverse suppliers that could pivot to making, storing and distributing PPE. The companies' response to the need for PPE is a shining example of supplier diversity done right, and we thank them for recognizing the importance of contracting with diverse businesses, especially in times of crisis.

Many of the companies also reported increased efforts to ensure that their contractors can weather the pandemic, including streamlining the invoicing process, accelerating payment, and in some instances, even making advance payments for work.

The Greenlining Institute’s 2020 California Ballot Proposition Guide

The upcoming general election will determine the course of California’s future and will likely be the most important election in our lifetimes. It's clear that racial equity is on the ballot this November. We have a historic chance to move our state forward, and to resist efforts by special-interests groups eager to roll back the progress we’ve made together.  

Our communities and neighborhoods are facing an unprecedented number of crises - a global pandemic, worsening wildfires, and an economic recession - all exacerbated by racial inequality. This endorsement guide explains Greenlining's positions on the California ballot propositions that we consider essential to the battle for racial justice in our state. These California ballot propositions will impact our communities for decades to come. 

Greenlining is dedicated to building a society where communities of color thrive. We produced this endorsement guide with our racial equity principles in mind and for Californians who share our vision for a future where race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. We urge all eligible voters to register and vote, so follow this link to check your registration. Whether you vote by mail or in person, you can make a difference for all of us


Proposition 15: Communities and Schools First

Requires commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value and dedicates revenue

California’s K-12 schools and community colleges are woefully underfunded: Last year, California ranked 20th in the country in K-12 per-student spending. This underfunding disproportionately harms students of color, who are more likely to attend schools in low-income areas and suffer worse educational outcomes.

Proposition 15 will raise between $6.5 billion and $11.5 billion for California’s schools by ensuring that California’s wealthiest companies pay property taxes based on their properties’ fair market value.  Proposition 15 will not raise taxes on homes, agricultural property, or companies with property worth less than $3 million. It will stop companies from using complex transactions to exploit loopholes and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Greenlining recommends a YES vote on Proposition 15.


  • California Teachers Association
  • SEIU California State Council
  • The California Federation of Teachers
  • Parent Teachers Association of California


  • California Restaurants Association
  • California Small Business Association
  • California Taxpayers Association
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Proposition 16: Opportunity for All

Repeals Proposition 209 (1996), which says that the state cannot discriminate or grant preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting

Proposition 16 would allow California to address its history of redlining and discriminatory treatment of communities of color by repealing 1996’s Proposition 209.  Proposition 209 prohibited California from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, specifically in public employment, public contracting, and public education.  Proposition 209 remains an obstacle to racial equity in California. By purporting to treat everyone “equally,” it maintained the status quo of disinvestment in communities of color, exacerbating California’s historical racial wealth and income gaps.  Proposition 209 has perpetuated gender and racial inequity, deprived women and people of color-owned businesses of access to capital, and exacerbated health disparities.

If we are going to address racism and economic inequity in California, we must be able to implement race-based solutions. According to the Equal Justice Society, businesses owned by people of color and women have lost out on more than 1 billion dollars in contracts per year due to Prop. 209. Despite the fact that Black, Latinx, Asian American and immigrant businesses are suffering now more than ever due to COVID-19, our state today cannot offer assistance in a targeted manner.  

California needs to be able to allocate resources by race, ethnicity, and gender to make sure that communities that are the most disproportionately impacted receive the resources they need. It is time to repeal Prop. 209. 

We recommend a YES vote on Proposition 16.


  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
  • California Black Chamber of Commerce
  • California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
  • Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers


  • American Freedom Alliance
  • Chinese American Civic Action Alliance
  • Students for Fair Admissions, Inc.

Proposition 17: Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole

Restores the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole

Proposition 17 would allow persons convicted of felonies on parole to vote in California elections. California’s current felony disenfranchisement law is part of an almost 150-year old effort to keep Black and Brown citizens out of the voting booth.  It is a repugnant holdover from the history of state and local laws enforcing racial segregation after the Civil war. 

The over-policing and over-incarceration of Black communities and the ill-conceived “tough on crime” laws of the 1980’s and ‘90’s resulted in Black and Hispanic citizens being incarcerated at much higher rates than their white counterparts. As a result, Black and Hispanic citizens are disproportionately deprived of their right to vote, both while incarcerated and while on parole. Research shows that when people of color have increased political participation, their communities benefit from more economic opportunity and a more equitable distribution of public purpose funding.  Proposition 17 is not only a small step towards creating economic equity for communities of color, but also  a recognition that all people are of equal worth and have the right to vote.

Greenlining recommends a YES vote on Proposition 17.


  • League of Women Voters of California
  • ACLU of California


  • The Election Integrity Project California
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Proposition 19: Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties

Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules

Don’t be fooled. Proposition 19 would primarily benefit wealthy homeowners who would receive a tax break during a housing crisis and economic recession. Proposition 19 would make changes to residential property tax rates, allowing homeowners who are over 55, disabled, or victims of wildfires to keep lower property tax rates when they purchase a new home. Additionally, Proposition 19 would increase property tax rates on properties that children inherit from their parents, unless the children use that property as a primary residence (in other words, Proposition 19 would increase tax rates on inherited homes that are “investment” properties, rather than residences). The money raised by Proposition 19 would be used, in part, to fund fire protection services.

Proposition 19 would not help first-time homeowners who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous and people of color.  While Proposition 19 could generate tens of millions of dollars for local governments and schools, it’s unclear how that money would be distributed, and the Proposition contains no safeguards to ensure that the money would benefit underserved neighborhoods and low-income Californians. In face of an unprecedented crisis, voters deserve stronger housing solutions. 

Greenlining recommends a NO vote on Proposition 19.


  • California Business Roundtable
  • California Association of Realtors
  • California State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO
  • National Diversity Coalition


  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • The Orange County Register Editorial Board
  • Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards
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Proposition 20: Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection

Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection

Proposition 20 is bad news and if passed this measure would set the criminal justice reform movement back decades. This proposition would increase criminal penalties for non-violent crimes by allowing some misdemeanors to be charged as felonies. It also would limit access to parole for non-violent offenders and increases DNA data collection from people convicted of misdemeanors.

Overall, Proposition 20 would increase the time people spend in jail or prison for nonviolent crimes. Given the racial bias in policing, communities of color will be the ones most affected by these proposed changes. California estimates that several thousand people a year would face increased jail time because of Proposition 20. Housing just one inmate in California costs approximately $75,000 a year. As a result, cash-strapped state and local governments would face tens of millions of dollars a year in increased incarceration costs.

Incarceration and policing are inadequate tools for addressing the root causes of crime. The millions of dollars that Proposition 20 will cost the state would be better spent on rehabilitation and increasing the educational quality, housing, food security and job opportunities in the neighborhoods that have the most crime and policing. 

Greenlining recommends a NO vote on Proposition 20.


  • Orange County Board of Supervisors 
  • Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs 
  • Los Angeles Police Protective League


  • SEIU California State Council
  • ACLU of Northern California

Proposition 21: Local Rent Control

Expands local governments' power to use rent control

Proposition 21 is a critical step to addressing California’s housing crisis as the supply of homes is low and demand is high. Sky-high housing costs mean nearly half of Californians do not own a home and instead must rent. Real estate companies and landlords can take advantage of this dynamic by buying multiple homes and raising rents to excessive levels that are unaffordable to poor and disadvantaged families. Given the history of housing discrimination and redlining, families of color are the most affected by high rental costs: Only 33 percent of Black households own homes in California compared to 60 percent of White ones.    

Proposition 21 allows but does not require cities to establish rent control on residential properties that are over 15 years old. This would limit the amount a landlord could raise rent each year. If a city and its residents decide to enact rent control, any landlord will still be allowed to raise rent enough each year so that they will still earn a fair profit on their property. This measure only applies to landlords and real estate companies that have more than two properties.

Stronger rent control will help keep families in their homes and ensure seniors, veterans and critical employees like teachers and frontline workers can continue to afford to live in the communities they serve. Limiting rental increases can prevent thousands of families from entering homelessness each year while encouraging developers to build new homes that would not be affected by rent control rules. 

Greenlining recommends a YES vote on Proposition 21.


  • ACLU of Southern California
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  • Eviction Defense Network
  • Los Angeles Tenants Union


  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • California Council for Affordable Housing
  • California Taxpayers Association
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
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Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies

Determines whether app-based drivers are independent contractors and enacts labor policies related to app-based companies

Proposition 22 is a deceptive measure funded by multi-million dollar app-based companies seeking to spend less on employee protections so they can maintain higher profits for their wealthy shareholders. 

Last year, California passed a law that would require companies that employ gig workers to treat these workers as employees rather than independent contractors. This law requires tech companies like Uber and Lyft to treat their workers fairly and contribute to California’s safety-net programs. It does not require companies to take away the flexibility that gig workers currently have in setting their schedules and working hours.

Proposition 22 would create a special exemption for ridesharing and gig delivery companies so that they would not have to provide standard employee benefits such as healthcare, unemployment, and sick leave to their drivers. Instead, Prop. 22 would create a set of weaker employee benefits that do not even guarantee drivers will earn a minimum wage for the time they spend working and waiting for rides. Employee protections are key for rideshare drivers, 78 percent of whom are people of color, and essential workers. 

Labor protections help fund safety net programs such as unemployment insurance that are critical when workers lose a job due to injury or when a disaster like a pandemic or wildfire happens. Employee status means workers who have lost their jobs or cars have the resources they need to stay in their homes and take care of their families until they can get back on their feet. Proposition 22 would deny that status to drivers and pass the responsibility for providing life-saving workers protections from Uber & Lyft to everyday Californians. 

Greenlining recommends a NO vote on Proposition 22


  • California Police Chiefs Association
  • California State Sheriffs' Association
  • Lyft, Postmates, & Uber


  • California State Council of Laborers
  • California Teachers Association
  • Unite HERE
  • Gig Workers Rising
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Proposition 24: Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative

Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Creates the California Privacy Protection Agency for implementation and enforcement

Companies collect our data as we use our phones, shop in stores and online, browse the internet and post on social media. This data is increasingly shared and used in ways that affect economic opportunity. Companies use this data to target low-income families and the elderly with predatory loans and products. Others use this data to charge some of us higher prices,determine whether we get a job or what we pay for car and health insurance.

Proposition 24, otherwise known as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), is a privacy focused ballot initiative that would fund a new privacy protection agency, allow consumers to correct inaccurate information, and put new limitations on profiling customers and the use of sensitive personal information such as race and ethnicity. The CPRA also makes it harder for lobbyists to weaken existing privacy protections in the future and punishes companies that are negligent in protecting your data.

While the CPRA does provide several benefits, many of its protections rely on consumers reading the fine print in wordy terms of service, or taking the time to opt-out of data collection every time they visit a new site. The CPRA will continue to allow companies to charge customers more based on the amount of data they share. Greenlining’s focus is on creating a future in which we are protected from data-driven discrimination regardless of whether we opt out or in of data collection. Overall, the CPRA increases privacy protections in some areas but does not go far enough to protect consumers.

Greenlining takes NO POSITION on Proposition 24.


  • California NAACP
  • AFSCME California
  • Californians for Consumer Privacy


  • ACLU of California
  • Color of Change
  • Council on Islamic American Relations - California
  • Media Alliance
Acknowledgements: A Special Thank you to the Greenlining team, community-based partners, and allies who helped inform the creation of this proposition guide for Californian voters.

Making Racial Equity Real in Research

Executive Summary

The research field has come a long way since the days of explicit exclusion, exploitation and experimentation on communities of color and other marginalized populations. Today we see increasing interest and available funding both for the study of racial equity and for conducting research in more equitable ways. While this certainly represents significant progress, the research field still struggles to overcome its legacy of White supremacy and structural racism.

While research is a powerful tool to advance racial equity, progress remains stubbornly slow due to a multitude of structural barriers that prevent research from truly benefiting marginalized communities, and in some cases harming these communities. Even well- intentioned research practices can be nonreciprocal, tokenizing, extractive and culturally insensitive

The imbalanced power dynamic can distort trust between researchers and community partners, which works against meaningful partnerships and hampers the ability to turn research into actionable policy change

While many researchers and research institutions are recognizing and confronting inequities and power dynamics that are deeply rooted in their fields’ culture and practices, this is not yet standard practice. The structures upholding racial injustice in research are so deeply entrenched that players at every level must work to dismantle them. This report offers recommendations for a wide audience, including research funders, academic and non-profit research institutions, individual researchers and community partners.

Audience for this Report

While we envision these recommendations to be applicable to a wide variety of research, it is particularly relevant for applied, policy-oriented research. Research takes many forms. For a few—like strictly mathematical modeling of climate impacts—the concepts presented here may have less applicability. For others, such as clinical drug trials, some ideas will be applicable and others may need to be adjusted. Part of our purpose is to encourage those involved in all forms of research to think seriously about equity and community impacts. Recognizing these differences, for the sake of brevity, in this report we refer to all sorts of research and evaluations under the umbrella term of “research.”

In addition to researchers, this resource is also geared towards community-based groups, equity-centered organizations, government agencies, research funders and other groups who play an integral role in the research field. More explicitly this report is intended for: 1) researchers studying racial equity; 2) researchers who may not be studying racial equity, but wishing to conduct their research in a more equitable, partnership-based way; 3) research institutions aiming to support these efforts; 4) research funders seeking to embed racial equity and community engagement requirements into their grant guidelines;

Instructions for Using This Report

The learnings, reflections and discussion questions presented here should be thoughtfully addressed before the research scope and questions are finalized and funded, and continually referred to throughout the process. This is the process that Greenlining will now follow when forming a partnership with research institutions that wish to embed racial equity principles into their work. This approach has enabled our team to maintain more trusting and transparent partnerships with researchers while producing more credible and accountable racial equity research.

This report offers five key steps to creating partnership-based research:

  1. Understand the context of racism in research in the past and present
  2. Review the challenges, best practices, and opportunities available for centering racial equity in research
  3. Conduct an internal equity assessment of your research institution, department, or team 
  4. Partner with and pay a community partner 
  5. Co-create the research questions and scope of work with a community partner

The Greenlined Economy Guidebook

Executive Summary

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, our system was already broken. The racial wealth gap, displacement and gentrification were destroying communities of color, and climate disasters were already a predictable part of the national news cycle. Now, on the verge of the worst economic downturn in decades, we have a collective moral imperative to reimagine the purpose of our economy: This is our time to build a new economic system that radically meets the needs of the people who have suffered the most under our current paradigm, particularly people of color. Reimagining our economic system in this moment is not opportunistic; it is our responsibility if we want to have a truly just, resilient and anti-racist world.

For real, transformative change, we need to think bigger than individual industries or actors. The COVID-19 pandemic, crisis of police terror, and oncoming recession have underscored what we already knew: For true growth and resilience, we need to rebuild in a way that ensures communities of color thrive for generations. We need to shape a new anti-racist economy, not rebuild the old one. We need to greenline the entire economy. 

The Greenlined Economy we envision is: 

    • Cooperative: Our current system is highly individualistic, with wealth and ownership concentrated among just a few people. In a greenlined system, wealth is equitably generated, shared and distributed by communities.
    • Regenerative: The existing economic paradigm has profited off the extraction and destruction of our natural resources. A greenlined system is non-extractive, sustainable and ecologically resilient.
    • Democratic: Everyone has the right to shape the decisions that impact their lives. A greenlined system is participatory, democratically governed, and led by those who historically have been shut out of decision-making power.
    • Non-exploitative: The exploitation of labor and resources that anchors racial capitalism cannot be carried into our future. A greenlined system is anti-racist and rooted in justice and equity for marginalized communities.
    • Inclusive: Our current system is deeply segregated and defined by systems of oppression such as racism, classism and patriarchy. A greenlined system enables everybody to participate in shared prosperity.

At the center of this vision, community anchors these five principles. Together, these principles help communities build power and advance equity in every piece of the system. This framework forms the pillars of our long-term vision for an economic system with racial equity at its core.

Our current economic system is built on a basis of maximizing profit,
racism, and concentration of power. However, in a Greenlined Economy, the community’s needs anchor the other pillars of the system.

Community Investment Standards

One of our approaches to making a Greenlined Economy possible is by establishing rules or standards for equitable community investment. Of course, community investment is just one small piece of a much larger economic system. Over the past three decades, the Greenlining Institute has helped to redirect billions of dollars into the communities we represent, but always within the confines of an extractive and exclusionary economic system. The standards in this section are intended to address the system-level barriers outlined in the Findings section of the guidebook.

We use the phrase “community investment” broadly to refer to community-oriented projects in disinvested communities across many different sectors, including housing, real estate, infrastructure, transportation, parks, food and nutrition, health and small business, to name a few. In this guidebook, we focus on large-scale community investments, particularly those that have the potential to accelerate or catalyze significant change in a neighborhood.

To greenline community investment, we have developed a set of rules to govern funds and programs intended to address poverty and inequity. Without standards, we end up reinforcing the structures that caused these problems in the first place. These standards are meant to address failures of equity in our current community investment model. We imagine that these standards could be applied to community investments by diverse actors, including public agencies, philanthropic organizations, private investors or community-based organizations advising or developing their own investment strategies.

Six Standards for Equitable Community Investment

    • Emphasize race-conscious solutions. Race-conscious policies like redlining and urban renewal got us to this point, and race-neutral approaches can’t fix the underlying inequities. Investment needs to target and prioritize the most impacted communities.
    • Prioritize multi-sector approaches. Programs may be siloed, but problems are not. We need to prioritize approaches that address multiple issues and sectors at once.
    • Deliver intentional benefits. Benefits cannot trickle down to communities; they need to go directly to the people in the most impactful ways, while avoiding increasing or creating new burdens.
    • Build community capacity. Long-term disinvestment and discriminatory policies can erode a community’s capacity for leadership, organizing or political capital. Acknowledging the ways that structural racism has impacted the capacity of communities of color to undertake community development projects is a key part of improving investments.
    • Be community-driven at every stage. Lifting up community-led ideas and sharing decision-making power is an important element of truly community-centered investment. Community members and organizations should be part of every phase of the project or policy, from goal-setting to analysis.
    • Establish paths toward wealth-building. We need community ownership of assets and opportunities to continue building wealth. In a Greenlined Economy, as many people as possible should be able to participate in wealth building, which will include a broader set of pathways beyond homeownership with lower barriers to entry.

We imagine that these standards could be applied to community investments by diverse actors, including public agencies, philanthropic organizations, private investors or community-based organizations advising or developing their own investment strategies.

Policy Recommendations

Greenlining our system and making community investment equitable will require ambitious changes in how we operate. Our recommendations fall into two categories: policies to advance the Community Investment Standards, and policies to support high-level systems change. The expanded policy recommendations are listed in the full report.

  • Advance the Community Investment Standards: Government, philanthropy and private investors should work on shifting values, redistributing power and advancing culture change within the community investment sector. This includes implementing policies that shift and grow community power, making equity a core piece of any project rather than an add-on, and requiring program applicants and investors to articulate how equity shows up in community investment projects. We also need policies that infuse equity into the process and implementation of the standards, such as setting criteria for equity beyond demographic targeting, accountability for spending, and strong value capture mechanisms.
  • Make lasting systems change: We need to pave a road for race-conscious investments at every level of government. This includes reparations for Black and Indigenous people, progressive restructuring of our tax code, more pathways to community ownership and wealth-building, and the creation of an Office of Racial Equity at the local, regional and state levels. Finally, we need to change our financing system, particularly for community investment. This would mean divesting from extractive and exploitative industries and proactively investing in justice, democratizing our funding processes through participatory budgeting and Green Public Banks, plus requiring banks to accurately quantify risk and to report on the economic or environmental externalities of a project.

Opening Pathways for Youth of Color: The Future of California’s Health Workforce

Executive Summary

California is experiencing compounding public health crises. The health professional shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic have left the state physically and financially distressed, without the health workforce needed to care for it. Decision-makers must take bold action to meet this need in a manner that is equitable and honors California’s rich diversity. Programs that assist youth of color in accessing health careers can play a major role.

Together with the Alameda County Health Pathway Partnership, The Greenlining Institute researched the effectiveness of health career pathway programs as a means of building a larger, more diverse health workforce. Alumni of Alameda County Health Pathway Partnership program, nearly all youth of color, were recruited to share their experiences navigating towards a career in health. From January to May of 2020, researchers used a focus group and a series of online surveys to capture participants’ stories. Through this research, Greenlining was able to identify major supportive factors and barriers for young people of color. From this, we developed a series of targeted recommendations that we believe will fortify the health workforce and ultimately, mitigate harm to the physical and economic health of California residents.


While Black, Latino and Native American communities are projected to make up 62 percent of California’s population by 2030, only five percent of the state’s practicing physicians are Black and just 5.9 percent are Latino. This makes it difficult for large portions of the state’s population to receive culturally competent care, and represents a significant economic obstacle to these communities, as the health workforce offers a variety of well-paying, family-sustaining careers.

Report Findings

Participation in an ACHPP career pathway program increased the desire and confidence of youth of color to pursue a career in health.

Primary supportive factors:

  1. Exposure to different health careers and professionals built the skills and confidence of pathway alumni.
  2. Social support and mentorship were essential for first-generation and low-income youth.
  3. Financial assistance minimized the financial burden of choosing pathway opportunities over holding a current job.

Primary challenges included:

  1. Finances: Expenses associated with pathway programs, college applications and tuition were cost prohibitive without significant financial assistance.
  2. Transportation: Participants often engaged in riskier, less expensive transportation methods to travel the great distances from school, work or home to career pathway opportunities.
  3. Barriers to Higher Education: Participants shared anxiety about getting into, paying for and navigating higher education without support systems and experienced mentors from their communities.

Experiences of Young Women

Young women who participated in the focus groups and surveys shared negative experiences specific to their gender relating to safety, gendered stereotypes within the profession, familial expectations and mentorship.

Policy Recommendations

We propose four areas of policy implementation to build a more diverse and robust health workforce. Interwoven into each of these recommendations is the need for race, ethnicity and gender-specific initiatives that are accessible to undocumented populations. California needs a disproportionate and explicit investment in communities of color, as broader attempts to expand the health workforce have not provided sufficient resources to enable youth of color to enter the field in large numbers. Recognizing the financial scarcity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that these investments are a needed, equitable and efficient means of improving both health and economic outcomes in California.

  1. Pass Proposition 16. By repealing California’s 1996 ban on affirmative action, Prop. 16 would facilitate the sort of targeted programs California needs to diversify its health workforce.
  2. Increase financial support to individuals pursuing careers in health. At present, cost presents a nearly insurmountable obstacle for many youth of color.
  3. Increase funding for pipeline programs. A number of excellent programs exist, but they need to be scaled up and replicated.
  4. Expand higher education programs. California does not presently train enough health professionals to meet the state’s needs. Programs should be expanded, with targeted efforts to enroll underrepresented groups.

On the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide

On the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide

Life Without Internet Access, and Why We Must Fix It in the Age of COVID-19




An Internet connection is critical to economic opportunity. That’s why The Greenlining Institute believes fast, reliable internet access should be a basic right, not a luxury, in today’s increasingly connected society. This has been brought into sharp relief by the novel coronavirus epidemic, forcing schools, colleges and offices to shut down and millions of students and workers to study and work from home. What constitutes an inconvenience for many becomes nearly impossible for those without a home broadband connection -- made even worse by the shutting down of libraries and cafes that allowed many without home broadband to get online. 

This mini-report explores what life is like for those who lack internet access. 

Even in normal times, completing homework, finding a job, working from home, starting a business, making appointments, and accessing government services all require an internet connection. However, too many low-income families don’t have this critical service and are on the wrong side of the “Digital Divide,” a term used to describe the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not. Frequently, low-income communities of color sit on the wrong side of this digital divide.

Summary of Findings:

Prior to the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, Greenlining asked residents of two California communities, Fresno and Oakland, to share  their struggles with internet access and found these common themes, all of which have been made more urgent by the pandemic:


Internet access is not a luxury


Lack of access creates significant hurdles for everyday life


Smartphone access is insufficient


Internet plans designed for low-income families are inadequate


Lack of access is a barrier to academic success


Nearly 22 percent of Californians are unconnected or underconnected to the internet, usually because internet access simply costs too much for too many families (1). This affordability barrier affects low-income families and communities of color the most. 

  •  Latino households are only about one third as likely to have access to home internet as White ones (2).
  • California’s wealthiest households are 16 times as likely to have access to home internet as the poorest ones (3).
Nearly 22% of Californians are unconnected or underconnected to the internet
Latino households are 21% less likely to have access to home internet than White ones. 

The Greenlining Institute mapped out Internet accessibility throughout California and found that areas that were redlined by banks in the past are digitally redlined today. Internet service providers in California invest millions deploying next generation high-speed internet networks in wealthy neighborhoods while ignoring low-income communities of color. 

These patterns mirror the old patterns of redlining. Redlining was the deliberate practice, carried out by both the government and the private sector, of denying loans and investment to communities of color. Though officially illegal for decades, recent investigations have found that redlining still occurs, sometimes in less overt forms.

Competition and fiber-based services are less widely available in low-income areas and communities of color, with the most severe deficits observed in census block groups that combine poverty and a large percentage of Black residents (4).

1930s Redlining Map
A historical redlining map of the City of Oakland and neighboring towns.
A heat map of the CIty of Oakland's Digital Divide in 2020.
A heat map of the CIty of Oakland's Digital Divide in 2020.

As you can see, today's map of communities in and near Oakland lacking high-speed internet access closely resembles official redlining maps from the 1930s. Neighborhoods depicted in red have access to significantly lower quality broad brand.

  • Green and Light Green: Fast internet speeds, near universal internet adoption and internet costs are inconsequential relative to household income.
  • Yellow: Average internet speeds, mid to high levels of internet adoption and internet costs are reasonable relative to household income.
  • Orange and Red: Below average internet speeds, low internet adoption rates, and internet access costs are a large burden relative to household income.



Greenlining interviewed California residents in Oakland and Fresno who had limited or no access to the internet to get a better picture of what life is like in the digital divide. In order to allow interviewees to speak freely and maintain privacy, we used pseudonyms if requested. 


Pitch is a 16-year-old Asian American Fresno resident who lives with her parents and four siblings on a $1,700 monthly income.


Daisy is a 17-year-old Latina Fresno resident who lives with her parents and two brothers on a $1,600 monthly income.


Amanda is a 28-year-old Latina Fresno resident who lives with her husband and three children on a $1,200 monthly income.


Sandra is a 19-year-old Latina Fresno resident who lives on a $2,300 monthly income.


Jennifer is a 19-year-old Latina Fresno resident who lives by herself.

Miss A

Miss A (pseudonym) is a Black Oakland resident in her mid 60s with a disability that impairs her mobility on very tight monthly income.


Felix is a White Oakland resident in his mid 50s living by himself.

Why We Must Fix It Now

Real Stories from the Digital Divide

1. Internet access is not a luxury

some go into debt to have it and others cannot afford it at all

When we asked about the importance of internet access and their budgets, they told us they considered  internet access a priority even when they struggled to afford it. Others noted that $15 a month is the most they could afford for home internet.


2. Lack of access creates significant hurdles for everyday life

Inconsistent internet access disrupts day to day activities, forcing many to go to great lengths to get connected.

When we asked people about how inconsistent internet access affected their day to day activities, they mentioned going out of their way to obtain it, disrupting their children’s schedules and risking their safety to complete their work online.


3. Smartphone Access is Insufficient

Data caps or speed restrictions on smartphone plans mean families can’t rely on phone internet to meet their needs.

When we asked people about the limitations of their internet access through only their smartphone, they mentioned missing out on career opportunities.


4. Internet plans designed for low-income families are inadequate

Poorly-marketed programs provide inadequate service

Some low-income families can try to meet their access needs through government mandated programs like Comcast’s Internet Essentials, AT&T Access or LifeLine. However, these programs are poorly marketed, have limited eligibility and often provide families with slow, second-class service.

The average (median) internet speed in America was 72 Mbps in 2017. Research indicates that average users will need speeds of 150 Mbps by 2025. However, the majority of low-income internet plans only provide speeds of 10-15 Mbps today (5).


5. Lack of Access is a Barrier to Academic Success

Poor internet access means stress and wasted time

When we asked people about how internet access impacts their education, they mentioned that having limited internet access makes homework completion take twice as long, results in having to turn in assignments late and, for some, causes stress as they have to share a slow internet connection with a large family.

Research shows that fourth graders without home internet score 15-17 percent lower on standardized math, science and reading tests than those that have it. That gap only grows as students get older (6).


Goals & Solutions

Policy Recommendations

These stories offer a glimpse of the significant challenges that too many Californians face when it comes to internet access -- changes that have become even more urgent as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed much work and educational activity online. Tackling these problems means California must invest in its citizens and make high-speed internet universally available and affordable. The governor’s most recent budget calls for California to provide “Broadband for All” as a way to ensure digital equity. The Greenlining Institute proposes the following three strategies to achieve this goal:

Affordable high-speed Internet is vital to the daily lives of all Californians, such as receiving medical treatment, completing school homework, and taking advantage of emerging economic opportunities. Digital equity and inclusion – ensuring all communities enjoy the fruits of innovation – necessitates Broadband for All.” 

Office of the California Governor

1. Affordable Universal Service

California should require all internet providers to market and offer affordable high-speed internet plans to low-income households. These plans should  offer at least 50 Mbps speeds for $10/month to Californians earning 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Speeds should increase as usage needs grow. Greenlining supports AB 3079, because it would lower the cost of home internet service for low-income families. 

2. Fiber Internet for All

California must modernize its internet connectivity by building ultra-fast “fiber” internet infrastructure statewide. This will create jobs and provide families and businesses with the internet connectivity we need to keep up with the growing demand for internet services and to remain a global leader in innovative technology. Greenlining supports SB 1130 because it would increase investment in fast, future-proof broadband networks across the state. 

3. Increased Competition

Californians generally only have two internet providers to pick from, resulting in higher prices and slower speeds. As California invests in fiber internet, it should use its funds in ways that encourage cities, wireless providers, and smaller companies to compete and develop their own internet options. This would lower the cost of internet access for all Californians.

Achieving these goals will require a strong vision and bold action from all sectors of society, but taking action now is critical given the importance of the internet to economic opportunity and a stable society. Achieving an aggressive and inspired broadband vision will help families stay connected, provide economic opportunity, increase resiliency during crises, and improve the quality of life for all Californians.

Report Authors

Vinhcent Le

Technology Equity Legal Counsel
Office: 510.809.1813
Email: vinhcentl@greenlining.org

Gissela Moya

Manny Garcia Technology Equity Fellow
Office: 510.809.1808
Email: gisselam@greenlining.org


Factsheets: California’s Electric Vehicle Equity Incentive and Mobility Programs

State funded EV programs can help all Californians access safer, cleaner and more reliable transportation and improve our air quality.

California’s transportation sector is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 40 percent of the state’s climate-altering pollution. Pollution from cars, trucks and buses disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color and create compounding negative health and income externalities for the most vulnerable.  For these disadvantaged communities the opportunity to own or lease clean, reliable electric vehicles can be life changing and transitioning from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to zero-emission vehicles is a crucial step toward improving air quality in our most burdened communities. State leaders should prioritize zero-emission vehicles to clean our air, fight climate change and further economic opportunities.

To learn more about California's equitable electric vehicle, mobility, and transportation programs, download one of our factsheets:

2019 Annual Report

With the release of our 2019 Annual Report, we invite you to reflect on this past year with us as we take a moment to celebrate the progress made, lessons learned and victories won. In 2019, The Greenlining Institute celebrated its 26th anniversary in 2019, and the organization’s commitment to fighting for better opportunities and increased investments in communities of color has never been stronger. 2019 also marked a number of changes, principal among them the announcement of Debra Gore-Mann as President and CEO of Greenlining. We are inspired by her vision and dynamism, and are honored to welcome her as the first woman of color President in Greenlining’s history.

In 2020, the effects of racial disenfranchisement and systemic othering have become further exacerbated by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. At the very same time, our country is now facing a long-overdue reckoning with the public health crisis of anti-Black violence and police brutality, and the culpability of institutions that perpetuate the system of racial hierarchy in our society.

Although we have our work cut out for us, over the course of Greenlining’s history we have seen the impact of strategic research and innovative policy advocacy to codify equity and influence outcomes in communities of color for the better. This ability to shine a light and illuminate the truth for others is a testament to Greenlining’s model and impact. With this intergenerational, multi-ethnic and community-centered focus, Greenlining will continue to operate as a key player in these critical policy conversations—and work to meaningfully improve the livelihoods of our target communities for generations to come. We look forward to building this future together and extend our sincerest thanks for your ongoing support of Greenlining.

2019 Supplier Diversity Report Card

Incremental Progress in a Swiftly Changing Landscape

As our country tackles problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, from income and wealth inequality to climate change, we must face the origins of these challenges head-on. Historically, when public utilities contracted with outside suppliers, they did so using an “old-boy” network, which denied economic opportunity to businesses owned by people of color and by other historically marginalized groups.

Always on the cutting edge, California and many of the companies that operate here have long recognized that diversity is integral to good business, and that a diverse workforce and diverse procurement investment can help companies venture into new markets and increase shareholder value. Nowhere is this culture more apparent than in the groundbreaking supplier diversity efforts taken on by utility companies under the guiding principles of the California Public Utilities Commission’s General Order 156. The California Public Utilities Commission’s model for promoting supplier diversity in the industries it regulates has withstood the test of time and, when the policy is made a priority by the sitting commissioners, it has generated unprecedented results.

Summary of Findings

California’s energy, telecommunications, and water companies remain at the forefront of supplier diversity achievements, with a “class average” well above their peers nationwide. However, there is still progress to be made. In 2018, figures reported by the companies to the California Public Utilities Commission show that:

  • Most companies improved their percentage of procurement dollars spent with Minority Business Enterprises in 2018. However, a broad gap remains between high performers and low performers.
  • The cable industry continues to neglect supplier diversity, with Comcast and Cox both receiving grades of F. Comcast’s contracting with minority suppliers dropped sharply this year.
  • With the exception of Verizon, Cox, and Sprint, the companies’ spending with African American Business Enterprises continued to be a challenge.
  • The companies’ spending on Asian American/Pacific Islander suppliers slipped.
  • While over two thirds of the companies saw improvement in their spending with Latino suppliers, overall spending with those suppliers was still unacceptably low.
  • The companies’ spending with Native American suppliers saw some improvement, with 50 percent of companies reporting increased spending.
  • The companies’ spending with women-owned suppliers stayed relatively flat in 2018, and the companies’ spending with minority women-owned suppliers remained markedly lower than spending with women-owned suppliers overall.
  • The companies’ spending on LGBT-owned suppliers saw some improvement, but still has a long way to go.
  • The companies’ spending with disabled veteran-owned suppliers continued to slip.

This year, three companies exceeded 30 percent procurement with minority-owned businesses. In addition to the overall strength of 2018’s results, companies spent a combined $39 billion with businesses owned by people of color, an $8 billion increase over 2017.

While these results are impressive, several companies report internal pressure to reduce or eliminate their supplier diversity programs. In the face of leadership changes, budget cuts, shifts in corporate strategy and other internal changes, the benefits of supplier diversity remain relevant and necessary in the 21st century global economy.

Companies that report strong support from executive leadership and concerted efforts to include diversity at all stages in the procurement process continue to show strong results. In particular, companies that embrace supplier diversity best practices demonstrate strong results in traditionally underutilized categories. These industry leaders show that strong performance and consistent progress are, in fact, possible and set a strong example for their reporting peers.

It is particularly encouraging that 2018 saw overall strong results at a time when the energy and communications industries underwent significant shifts in the landscape. Utilities have grappled with the emergence of more community choice aggregators online1 and serving customers, as well as more frequent, larger, and more devastating wildfires across the state; these changes in the energy landscape raise necessary questions about the electrical grid’s reliability, affordability, and resiliency. Wireline and wireless companies have experienced a shift from regulation at the federal level to regulation at the state level, which may result in those companies having to adjust their business models in response to state-level regulation. Despite these challenges, many of the companies in those industries maintained or increased their supplier diversity spending

About Our Report

The Greenlining Institute’s Supplier Diversity Report Card grades California’s energy, communications, and water companies based on the supplier diversity reports the companies file with the California Public Utilities Commission. Our rankings are based on performance and improvement: Grades are primarily determined by the companies’ percentage spending, with adjustments made for significant increases or decreases compared to the previous year. We break down spending by ethnic categories, as well as minority women-, disabled veteran-, and LGBT-owned suppliers. We make recommendations based on what we see in the numbers and what we hear from the companies themselves about their programs and practices. We advocate for supplier diversity because it creates economic gains on all sides: It promotes economic development in diverse communities, and by increasing competition and diversity in the supply chain, generates a better return on investment for companies that meaningfully engage in it.

2019 Bank Board Diversity

Executive Summary

The Greenlining Institute regularly examines corporate executive board diversity.1 Our 2019 study zeroes in on the gender and racial makeup of bank executive boards, and occurs just as federal policymakers push for diversity in banking and financial inclusion, including the recent creation of a Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion within the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and a June 2019 hearing on “Diversity in the Boardroom.”  Greenlining supports efforts in Congress to increase board diversity by requiring disclosure of corporate board demographics (H.R. 3279 and H.R. 1018) and identifying diverse board candidates (H.R. 281).

Our analysis of the 10 largest depository banks in California, defined by deposit market share, found that on average, people of color make up 30 percent of board composition, while making up over 67 percent of California’s population. Bank of the West topped the rankings with a board containing 75 percent people of color.

Why Board Diversity at Banks Matters

When companies are intentional about creating diverse, equitable and inclusive work environments, they help to disrupt the income disparities that inform broader economic conditions in marginalized communities. For financial institutions in particular, the leadership should reflect the communities they serve in order to effectively build trust with consumers and make capital and financial services accessible. And ultimately, a diverse board improves an institution’s bottom line.3

Executive boards are the ultimate decision-makers in financial institutions and drive policies that trickle down to communities. Boards are accountable for the actions and behaviors of their institutions. In order to fight redlining and promote economic development in communities of color, boards need to reflect the diversity of the population they serve. In the United States, people of color make up 41.8 percent of the population. California’s population is more than 67 percent people of color.

Greenlining Standards for Equitable Bank Boards:

  • Consider the racial demographics of the United States as a benchmark for representation.
  • Consider the gender demographics of the United States as a benchmark for representation.
  • Include at least one person of color and one woman for consideration in board candidate searches.
  • Publicly disclose executive board members, disaggregating by race and gender.
  • We believe that executive boards of national banks that meet Greenlining’s standards for equity will be more likely to create equitable and inclusive policies and have a greater commitment to diverse communities.

Report Findings

Board diversity among California’s largest banks still has room for progress. Overall, the boards of the banks we analyzed fail to mirror the racial and gender diversity of California and most also fail to reflect the demographics of the United States overall. Although Bank of the West ranks highest, with 75 percent of its board made up of people of color, the majority of the banks we studied had fewer than 40 percent people of color on their boards and, on average, people of color made up 30 percent of board composition.

Strategies for Building Diverse Boards

Bank boards should reflect the diversity of California and the nation. We believe that the following strategies will lead to greater racial equity within banks and in their investments in communities. Diverse leadership will help banks understand and meet the needs of their diverse customer base and prioritize reinvestment in currently underrepresented communities.

  • Establish a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Disclose board demographics and policies
  • Set goals for representation on boards
  • Expand qualifications for board members
  • Professional development of bank leadership