“Equity can happen anywhere:” California’s SGC Adopts Racial Equity Action Plan
SGC Deputy Director Jessica Buendia, presenting the Racial Equity Action Plan to SGC.
On April 30, 2019, California’s Strategic Growth Council (SGC) adopted an historic Racial Equity Action Plan with a unanimous vote—an endorsement that is multisectoral and from the highest levels of California state government. The SGC comprises six Secretaries representing transportation, health, agriculture, housing, natural resources, and environment, as well as three appointed public members, and is chaired by the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
The California SGC is the first state cabinet-level body in the country to adopt a racial equity plan. The Racial Equity Action Plan was developed through SGC’s participation in the Capitol Cohort, a racial equity capacity-building program for California State employees created by the Public Health Institute, in partnership with the California Health in All Policies Task Force, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), the California Department of Public Health, and The California Endowment.
Jessica Buendia, Deputy Director of the SGC, presented the council with an overview of the Capitol Cohort initiative and referenced 35 other jurisdictions throughout California also working with GARE. The state-level Capitol Cohort engages over 200 staff from 19 departments and agencies, provides a 50-hour curriculum, and supports their development of customized Racial Equity Action Plans tailored to their organization’s needs. A complementary speaking series provides a forum for additional learning and exposure to racial equity strategies and considerations.
The new Racial Equity Action Plan endorsed by the SGC outlines concrete actions that SGC leadership and staff will take to advance racial equity in their organization, operations, programs, and policies. Goals within the Racial Equity Action Plan include: identifying budgets for institutional and individual training on racial bias, the removal of personally identifying information from job applications, exploring stipend payments for interns and student assistants, outreach to people of color owned media outlets, new strategies for meaningful community outreach and engagement, and requiring diverse members on hiring panels.
SGC members voted 10 to 0 to incorporate the Racial Equity Action Plan in its operations and policy initiatives—in “the workforce, the workplace and the marketplace”—and to adopt a racial equity vision statement: “All people in California live in healthy, thriving, and resilient communities regardless of race.”
The Racial Equity Action Plan is multi-pronged and interdepartmental. As Jessica Buendia noted to the Council, “Equity is everywhere.” To ensure results based accountability, SGC staff will report on Racial Equity Action Plan results annually, and provide the Council a forum for discussion on lessons learned, progress on new strategies, and future needs.