Jan 10, 2024 - News

The diversity gap in Newsom's gubernatorial appointees

Photo of Gavin Newsom's profile as he looks into the distance

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at Los Angeles General Medical Center on Jan. 3. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Despite recent efforts to meet racial and ethnic parity as reflected in California, white people remain overrepresented among Gov. Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial appointments, a new study finds.

Why it matters: The report, published this week by the nonprofit Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), comes after Newsom repeatedly vetoed legislation requiring the publication of gubernatorial appointees' demographic information.

By the numbers: Among 480 appointments made in 2023, white people comprised the majority at 52%, while Latinos, Black people, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans collectively made up 39%, per HOPE's report.

  • Information for the remaining 9% was unknown or unavailable.
  • Around 35% of California's population is non-Hispanic white, according to 2020 census results.

Analysis of race and gender together revealed that:

  • White men accounted for 30% of all appointments and white women 22%.
  • Black men accounted for 5% and Black women 6%.
  • Latino men accounted for 8.5% and Latino women 9%.
  • AAPI men accounted for 3.5% and AAPI women 5%.
  • Native American men accounted for 1% and Native American women 1%.

What they're saying: "Without a public report to evaluate our progress, gaps in representation will continue to exist," state Sen. Monique Lim贸n (D-Santa Barbara) said in a press release. "The work to advance transparency must start in-house."

  • HOPE's report notes that the practice of reporting demographic data already exists in the state's Judicial Council and has been implemented in other states like Illinois.

The other side: The governor's office makes an "intentional, transparent effort ... to build a diverse and qualified pool of candidates for appointment," a spokesperson said in a statement to Axios.

  • Diverse appointments to senior leadership positions include the state's surgeon general and secretary for environmental protection, both of whom are Latino, the spokesperson added.

Between the lines: The push to create transparency comes as fallout from the Supreme Court's ruling against affirmative action in college admissions continues to radiate across the corporate sector as well as local governments.

The big picture: Newsom has been criticized in recent years for approving measures to mandate diversity reporting for venture capital firms but not his own office.

  • In an October letter, Newsom said he vetoed the latest bill for reporting gubernatorial appointments' demographics because the information is optional and self-reported by candidates and would not necessarily accurately reflect the diversity of appointees.
  • But HOPE, which advocates for political and economic parity for Latinas, countered in its report that California "regularly uses self-reported data for many different state agencies for resources like tax credits, disability insurance, and in the appointment of our judicial courts."

What to watch: Lim贸n said at a press conference this week that she plans to reintroduce legislation that would require annual reports of gubernatorial appointees' demographic information.


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