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Twitter Joins 25×25 Pledge on Diversity in Leadership Positions

The 25×25 Pledge challenges companies to increase their diversity in leadership positions in their companies with a goal of filling 25% of leadership positions with hires from underrepresented groups by 2025 or by making a pledge that leadership roles from underrepresented groups will increase by 25% by the year 2025.

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Dalana Brand, vice president of People Experience and head of Inclusion and Diversity at Twitter

On February 18, 2021, Twitter joined the Silicon Valley Leadership group by signing on to the 25×25 Pledge.

The 25×25 Pledge challenges companies to increase their diversity in leadership positions in their companies with a goal of filling 25% of leadership positions with hires from underrepresented groups by 2025 or by making a pledge that leadership roles from underrepresented groups will increase by 25% by the year 2025.

State law requiring diversity on corporate boards of publicly traded companies defined “underrepresented groups” as someone who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The self-identify component brings to mind Rachel Dolezal and others who identify as Black but are not, in fact, Black.

“We’re proud to join the 25×25 pledge, which expands on our bold vision for workforce representation and commitment to inclusion and diversity programs to accelerate progress,” said Dalana Brand, vice president of People Experience and head of Inclusion and Diversity at Twitter.

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation and we’re committed to making sure our company reflects the diversity of people who use the service.

“Twitter has long been a groundbreaker in Silicon Valley and a driver of the important conversations in our culture.  By taking the 25×25 pledge, they propel the conversation of inclusion and show themselves to be one of the most forward-thinking, action-oriented companies in diversity and representation in our industry,” Brand said. “This is all about action to make our leading companies stronger at the end of the day.  We’re proud to have them alongside so many of our member companies at this historic moment of reckoning, on diversity and representation.”

Other organizations taking the pledge include Alaska Airlines, Bay Area Council, Equilar, Facebook, Flex, Foothill De Anza College, Listo, Lumentum, NAACP (California & Hawaii), Santa Clara University, San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Chronicle, Stanford Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, SunPower, United Airlines, Western Digital and Zoom.

California Sen. Alex Padilla spoke at the Diversity Forward Conference by the Silicon Valley Leadership group on February 19 and said:  “[j]ust embracing the dialogue in this and agreeing that it is important to diversify your individual companies and organizations at all levels.  If you have something to brag about in terms of diversity, you know, why wait for it to be a mandated requirement for you to report it?  Show us where you are and show us the progress that you’re making.”

For more information about 25×25 visit Pledge25x25.org.

The San Francisco Chronicle, Pledge25x25.org and SVLG.org were sources for this report.

 

Business

Banning Menthol Cigarettes: California-Based Advocacy Group Joins Suit Against Federal Govt.

A California based non-governmental organization, The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), has joined two other public health advocacy groups in a second lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the agency’s inaction on issuing a final rule banning menthol cigarettes.

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“Menthol cigarettes have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the health of Black Americans,” said Yolanda Lawson, President of the NMA. “Smoking related diseases are the number one cause of death in the Black community.”
“Menthol cigarettes have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the health of Black Americans,” said Yolanda Lawson, President of the NMA. “Smoking related diseases are the number one cause of death in the Black community.”

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media  

A California based non-governmental organization, The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), has joined two other public health advocacy groups in a second lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the agency’s inaction on issuing a final rule banning menthol cigarettes.

The suit, filed by Christopher Leung of Leung Law, PLLC on behalf of the AATCLC, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the National Medical Association (NMA) comes more than seven months after the FDA’s established date for finalizing a new rule against menthol cigarettes.

“We are a group of Californians, although we have expanded now. We were formed in 2008 to inform and direct the activities of commercial tobacco control and prevention as they affect African Americans and African immigrants in this country,” said Carol McGruder, co-chair of the AATCLC.

McGruder was speaking during a press briefing April 2 organized to announce the lawsuit. with representatives from the ASH, NMA and other organizations.

“Menthol cigarettes have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the health of Black Americans,” said Yolanda Lawson, President of the NMA. “Smoking related diseases are the number one cause of death in the Black community.”

The lawsuit also follows the FDA’s 15-year delay in creating national policy that would ban cigarettes made with compound menthol, a minty substance that cigarette makers infuse into their tobacco products, making them more addictive and harmful.

Despite significant reductions in overall smoking rates in the US, smoking among poor, less educated and marginalized groups remains high. Every year, 45,000 Black Americans prematurely die from tobacco-caused diseases. An estimated 85% of them smoked menthol cigarettes.

“This disproportionate use of menthol cigarettes among Black Americans is not a coincidence,” Dr. Yerger continued. “I was one of the first tobacco documents researchers out of UCSF who exposed the tobacco industry’s systematic, predatory marketing schemes to dump highly concentrated menthol cigarette marketing into urban inner-city areas.”

In 2011, the FDA’s own scientific advisory committee concluded that the “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.”

If the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes is indeed banned, the FDA projects a 15.1% drop in smoking within 40 years, which would help save between 324,000 to 654,000 lives.

As a result of the Plaintiffs’ first lawsuit, the FDA made the landmark determination to add menthol to the list of banned characterizing flavors in cigarettes.

On the contrary, tobacco-aligned groups in the past have argued that banning menthol cigarettes would be impact federal and state budgets with the loss of nearly $6.6 billion in cigarette sales taxes. Menthol cigarettes account for over one-third of the U.S. cigarette market.

Other arguments from tobacco-backed groups include unintended consequences of a ban such as increased policing in Black and Brown communities due to contraband cigarettes. However, health advocates have dismissed this claim stating the ban would apply to companies that make or sell menthol cigarettes, not individual smokers.

By law, the United States has two months to respond to the lawsuit. The feds can respond to it or file a motion to dismiss.

If the suit is successful, the FDA would have 90 days to make a final ruling.

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Business

Cal. Supreme Court Could Strip Gov and Legislature of Power to Raise Taxes

On May 8, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, a measure that has already been approved for the November ballot. It calls for restricting the state Legislature and Governor’s ability to increase taxes without statewide voter approval. California business owners back the measure while Labor unions have rallied in opposition to it.

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California Supreme Court (iStock Photo)
California Supreme Court (iStock Photo)

By California Black Media

On May 8, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, a measure that has already been approved for the November ballot. It calls for restricting the state Legislature and Governor’s ability to increase taxes without statewide voter approval.

California business owners back the measure while Labor unions have rallied in opposition to it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative Democrats have petitioned the Supreme Court to remove the proposal from the ballot since the California Constitution requires a constitutional convention to ratify the ballot with a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature.

Democrats and labor unions stated that the ballot measure could limit state and local funding thus crippling the state’s ability to produce new sources of revenue. A reduction in revenue may result in government programs and initiatives being underfunded,” they say.

Legislative Democrats also argued that the measure’s economic impact will make it harder to resolve the state’s budget deficit.

Business owners and company leaders advocating for the ballot measure stated that the tax initiative can help form new checks and balances on taxation and attract companies to invest in California creating more jobs.

President of the California Business Roundtable Rob Lapsley, a supporter of the tax initiative, said that people are fed up with the state’s high taxes.

“This gives the people of California the right to vote on future taxes, and voters are going to support it if it’s on the ballot,” Lapsley said.

Opposers of the tax initiative, mainly labor unions and state workers such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters, have aligned with Legislative Democrats to reject the tax law.

Executive director of Service Employees International Union California Tia Orr said the tax law was created to benefit wealthy corporations and deceive the average taxpayer.

“I want to make it clear that the ‘Taxpayer Deception Act’ let’s wealthy corporations, who can afford expensive campaigns, to block taxes on their industries while regular Californians, regular people, shoulder more of the cost of critical services,” Orr said.

The California Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on the future of the initiative by June 27 this year.

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

Cal African American Chamber of Commerce Holds Annual Gwen Moore Legislative Reception

The California African American Chamber of Commerce partnered with the California African American Action Fund to host its annual “Honorable Gwen Moore California Legislative Reception.” The event took place on May 7 at the Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento. Distinguished guests included business leaders, state officials, and both former and current lawmakers. Notably, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), attended the event.

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Cathy Adams, President and CEO of Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, received the Aubry Stone Outstanding Business Award at the California African American Chamber of Commerce's Gwen Moore Legislative Reception in Sacramento on May 7. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Cathy Adams, President and CEO of Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, received the Aubry Stone Outstanding Business Award at the California African American Chamber of Commerce's Gwen Moore Legislative Reception in Sacramento on May 7. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California African American Chamber of Commerce partnered with the California African American Action Fund to host its annual “Honorable Gwen Moore California Legislative Reception.” The event took place on May 7 at the Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento.

Distinguished guests included business leaders, state officials, and both former and current lawmakers. Notably, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), attended the event. Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, 90, was the keynote speaker. Former state Sen. Roderick Wright and CAACC Executive Director Timothy Alan Simon served as emcees.

“The California African American Chamber of Commerce and the California African American Action Fund represent the African American economy of the fourth largest economy of the world,” Simon said during the introduction of the event. “Therefore, tonight let’s have some fun. We are going to learn how to acquire more power, more financial funding, and more access. We’re opening up those doors to you.”

During the reception, an award ceremony honored individuals for their achievements, innovative ideas, leadership, business acumen, and political contributions.

The CAACC Media and Communications Award was presented to Civil Rights Activist Danny Bakewell Jr., President of the Bakewell Company and Executive Editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel.

The Gwen Moore Legislative Impact Award was presented to Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Chair of the CLBC. The Legislator of the Year honor went to Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley).

“This is an absolute honor. Especially, with my knowledge and familiarity with Assemblymember Moore’s work,” Wilson said. “It’s just a reminder, honor, and privilege of this space I get to be in. This award holds profound significance for me and those who dedicated their lives to advancing equity, justice, and opportunities for all.”

Cathy Adams, President and CEO of Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce was presented with the Aubry Stone Outstanding Business Award. The Trailblazer Award was presented to the late Linda Crayton, former San Francisco City Commissioner.

Crayton served on the Airport Commission for the City and County of San Francisco from 1996 to 2020.

“She clearly served for almost 25 years, and she was totally sensitive to the need and careful implementation within the framework of all the rules that had been established,” Brown said of Crayton. She was a difference for many.”

Other leaders honored were John Reynolds, California Public Utilities Commission (recipient of the Distinguished Service Award); Hon. Heather Hutt, Councilmember for the City of Los Angeles, representing Council District 10, (Distinguished Service in the African American Community Award); and Thurman White, Senior Advisor ESO Ventures (Distinguished Recognition Award).

Rounding out the special guests and awardees list were Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), CLBC Vice Chair, Dennis Thurston, Supplier Diversity Program Manager for Southern California Edison; Angela Gibson-Shaw, President of Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce; and Tommy Ross, Pinnacle Strategic Group.

Toks Omishakin, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CALSTA) also attended the two-hour event.

“That’s the nature of how we need to work in the world of politics and, how we need to exercise authority and privilege.”

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