In describing a joint committee legislative hearing to address diversity in the state’s workforce (“Diversity lacking at state government agencies,” The State Worker, July 8), Jon Ortiz insinuates that California is in the land of Dixie.
State “government is disproportionately white,” he writes, noting that Hispanics are roughly 40 percent of California’s population, but only 23 percent of workers in departments with 1,000 or more employees.
But the statistics do not signify the arrival of Jim Crow to our wonderfully diverse state. The majority of all state employees are not white.
Whites make up 47 percent of employees in large state departments and about 40 percent of the state’s population; blacks are 10 percent of state workers, almost twice the percentage in the population; and Asians are 10 percent of employees and 13 percent of the population.
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If the state hires employees based on merit, who would complain about a small overrepresentation of racial groups – in this case blacks and whites? Only those who favor group identity over individual rights. To them, the state’s workforce must exactly match the racial demographics of the population, even if that means favoring workers of certain races while disfavoring others. This view of diversity should be avoided. Seeking diversity above all else leads to goals, quotas and, ultimately, racial discrimination.
It would be immoral for government leaders to ignore large racial disparities and fail to seek lawful solutions. But it would be equally reprehensible to address disparities by doling out employment opportunities on the basis of race.
Fortunately, state and federal civil rights laws, as well as the Constitution, prevent California state agencies from discriminating in the pursuit of racial diversity for its own sake.
Ralph Kasarda is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.