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The Racial Justice and Equity (RJE) Policy Team engages Leadership Group members in policy advocacy and impact initiatives that address access, opportunity, and representation for underrepresented minorities in Silicon Valley and across the country. Focused on Diversity in the Workplace and Justice Reform & Accountability, the RJE Team drives conversations and activities that inform our social change efforts. Membership consists of companies that seek to advance Diversity and Inclusion within their organizations and the broader innovation economy.

Team Lead

Angelica Cortez
Vice President, Racial Justice & Equity
[email protected]

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The May 25th murder of George Floyd gathered the 350 technology companies of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group like never before. In a series of emotive and vulnerable conversations, former Leadership Group President and CEO, Carl Guardino, led Silicon Valley business executives in discussions that catalyzed deep changes for our organization. We supported the executives and focused on what the world could be.  

In direct response to the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, our Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the formation of a Racial Justice and Equity Portfolio to advocate on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion most acutely felt in Black and Brown communities. Over the course of a 90-day period the Silicon Valley and California would see the confluence of cultural, legislative, and social responses to addressing economic inequities, wage disparities, and underrepresentation in leadership spaces within Black and Brown communities. 

Recognizing our role as a Business trade association, we believe that elevating everyone’s conscious awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion should not just be felt in discussions on Law Enforcement, but ought to be extended into the actions seen in the technology, business, and private sectors.  

To achieve diversity, we need to address the systems that have allowed for the underrepresentation of minority executives in our country. We believe that conversations of racial justice and equity belong inside our companies and outside, in our neighborhoods and communities.  

Legislative Activity

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Racial Justice & Equity Policy team advocate for local, county, and state education legislation and ballot measures based on the decisions of its Racial Justice & Equity Committee, Working Council, and Board of Directors. Both bills and ballot measures are presented to these committees for discussion and voting.

2020 Legislation

State Legislation: 

  • AB 979 (Holden) – Ethnic Diversity, Corporate Boards: SUPPORT
    This bill aims to increase underrepresented minority leadership on corporate Boards of Directors with publicly traded companies that have principal executive operations in California.  Modeled after SB 826 (2018) which sought to increase women leadership on corporate Boards, AB 979 defines underrepresented groups as including leaders from the African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ communities.  AB 979 requires corporate Boards with fewer than four members to appoint at least one director from an underrepresented community by 2021. Companies with five to nine Board members must appoint two directors from underrepresented communities and further, companies with more than nine members must appoint three directors from underrepresented groups by 2022. Companies that do not meet these requirements could face up to $300,000 in fines from the state.
    Status:  Signed into law by Governor Newsom.
  • AB 66 (González) – Police, Use of Force: SUPPORT
    In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of peaceful protestors, bystanders, health care professionals and reporters, seriously injured by kinetic energy projectiles and tear gas fired by law enforcement. While most police departments have their own policies on their use of tear gas and kinetic energy projectiles, there are no statewide or national standards. The Leadership Group supports AB 66. The threat of serious or permanent injury infringes on citizens’ right to make their voices heard on a variety of social and equity issues. AB 66 aims to protect the safety of Californians exercising their right to assemble and protest, two actions that have proven essential in instituting social change.
    Status: Failed
  • AB 846 (Burke) – Police, Peace Officers: SUPPORT
    This bill would require that evaluation to include bias against race or ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. The bill would require the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to study, review, and update regulations and screening materials to identify explicit and implicit bias against race or ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or sexual orientation related to emotional and mental condition evaluations. It would also require every department or agency that employs peace officers to review the job descriptions used in the recruitment and hiring of those peace officers and to make changes that deemphasize the paramilitary aspects of the job and place more emphasis on community interaction and collaborative problem solving, as specified. The Leadership Group supports AB 846 because screening out peace officers who have negative biases to certain peoples, as well as those officer candidates who may be antagonistic towards the communities they serve, will help reduce police violence. Peace officers are granted an exceptional amount of authority in the exercise of their law enforcement duties, and their work puts them in contact with many different racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation communities. It is therefore important that peace officers are appropriately screened prior to their service to determine if any have biases that would impact how they interact with diverse populations. Those working in law enforcement should also come to their peace officer role because they seek to interact with the community and solve problems, not because they wish for a role that they view as paramilitarism.
    Status: AB 846 was signed into law by Governor Newsom.
  • AB 1196 (Gipson) – Peace Officers, Use of Force: SUPPORT
    This bill would prohibit a law enforcement agency from authorizing the use of a carotid restraint or a choke hold, and techniques or transport methods that involve a substantial risk of positional asphyxia. The deaths of Eric Garner and George Floyd, among others, reveal that neck restraints administered by law enforcement have the potential to go badly wrong. Moreover, these restraints are overly-applied to African-Americans and Latinos in police custody. Banning law enforcement use of the carotid restraint and chokehold will remove a previously-authorized practice that has had lethal consequences for racial minorities.
    Status: AB 1196 was signed into law by Governor Newsom.

Federal Legislation:

Recent national events have highlighted a persistent problem of systematic police violence aimed at African Americans and certain minority communities. Too many law enforcement officers operate under insufficient accountability and transparency, resulting in community suppression and loss of life.

The Leadership Group supports H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (Rep. Bass) – a bill that seeks to increase police accountability and transparency.

This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices.

H.R. 7120 facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:

    • incentivize banning of chokeholds and carotid holds
    • lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,
    • limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and
    • authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination

The bill also creates the National Police Misconduct Registry to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. Additionally, it provides a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.

H.R. 7120 establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.

Actions Requested:
We urge the Senate to support H.R. 7120 because it provides substantive solutions to the systematic violence aimed at African-Americans and people-of-color by law enforcement.

Status: Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar on 7/20/20.

Racial Justice & Equity Committee Meetings

More information on our member-only committee meetings coming soon!

To learn more about joining the committee please contact Angelica Cortez at [email protected].

Co-Chairs: Laura Guio, IBM; Ibi Krukrubo, EY; Ken Goldman, Hillspire

Latest Blogs

Standing Up for Racial Justice & Equity

We know that sitting on the sidelines in times of racial injustice is unacceptable. As Innovation Economy CEOs, through the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we are humbled and challenged…

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