Photo by dlove via Shutterstock

California State Treasurer, Fiona Ma, was joined by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, and leaders from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Business Community in a virtual round table in support of Proposition 16. The prop would reinstate affirmative action in the state.

California banned policies in correlation with affirmative actions through Proposition 209, but this November, California residents will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 16. 

In the hour-long meeting on Sept. 10, AAPI leaders recounted the effects that Proposition 209 has had on their businesses in California. 

Kalra said Prop 16 would allow businesses owned by women and people of color to get their foot in the door. 

“I really do think that it creates equal opportunity for businesses that have been at it for a long time, but just can’t seem to get the opportunity to win contracts that allow them to do government work,” Kalra said.

A “no” vote on Prop 16 would keep Proposition 209 in place. Proposition 209 states that the government and public institutions cannot discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting.

Other speakers at the roundtable were notable AAPI leaders including, President and CEO of the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council, Virginia Gomez, President and CEO of CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, Pat Fong Kushida, and President of Briteworks, Inc., Anita Ron.  

Speakers recounted the $1.1 billion loss of annual government contracts for minority and women-owned businesses. 

Anita Ron, President of BriteWorks talked about the issues she’d faced as a female business owner. She said Prop 16 would “eliminate a lot of these barriers and help support us.” 

She added: “Not only with contracts, but it will create jobs, we will be able to employ people to do this.”

Chambers and businesses who are in support of Prop 16 said  California needs to “catch up with the rest of the country and start providing equal opportunity for all business owners.”

“You can’t game the system when you are shut out of the system,” Ma said at the end of the roundtable. 

“This is all about equity,” she said., 

“If we want to promote equity in our great state of California then we need to make sure we have the data and that we are able to lobby effectively for these opportunities especially in business and contracting rolls.” 

Vote Yes on Prop 16, the organization that hosted the roundtable says on their website: “In California, we believe in giving everyone, regardless of race or gender, an equal shot at fair wages, good jobs, and quality schools. But we’re not there yet. Women and people of color still face discrimination in hiring, employment, contracting, and education.”

Vote Yes on Prop 16 held a similar round table in August on Women’s Equality Day.

Written ByJulia Harrold

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