LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti today called for affirmative action in City government and signed an executive directive to study and promote racial equity in City departments. To help lead, coordinate, and drive these efforts, he also named Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley as L.A.’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer.
Anticipating the possible repeal of California Proposition 209 in November, Mayor Garcetti’s executive directive asks each City department to immediately create contingency plans for affirmative action programs across all functions, including, but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, training and procurement policies.
Additionally, Mayor Garcetti proposed a City Charter Amendment on a future ballot to implement affirmative action in City contracting should Proposition 209 be repealed. If passed by city voters, the ballot measure would amend the City Charter language that currently limits the City’s ability to give preferences in awarding contracts.
“Our city is hungry for change, and we must knit racial justice and affirmative action into the fabric of our policies, our institutions, and our society,” said Mayor Garcetti. “With the possible repeal of Proposition 209, we will begin preparing now for affirmative action in City government to open the doors of opportunity to African Americans and anyone too often left out and left behind in our economy. But no matter what happens at the ballot box, my executive directive ensures our City leadership looks at every issue through a lens of racial justice, acts to end structural racism, and brings more Black Angelenos and people of color into the halls of government.”
Affirmative action in the City would be permitted if state voters repeal Proposition 209, a measure that outlawed the practice across California. On June 10, 2020, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA-5) to begin the process of repealing this measure. If ACA-5 is passed by the State Senate as well, it will be placed on the November general election ballot, giving Californians the opportunity to repeal Proposition 209 by a majority vote.
Enacted in 1996, Prop 209 effectively banned affirmative action in California by adding a provision to the State Constitution stating that the “State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
Joined by many Black City commissioners for the announcement, Mayor Garcetti is calling in his executive directive for each City department and office to appoint racial equity officers, develop a Racial Equity Action Plan to review pertinent departmental functions, and identify efforts to promote racial equity in our local government.
The directive creates a City of Los Angeles Racial Equity Task Force, including representatives from every department, to provide feedback on these efforts, identify additional goals, and form working groups to help advance diversity in public service.
Through the Mayor’s executive directive, the City will also undertake a study of racial disparities in City hiring, promotion, and contracting to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of these inequities and inform the City’s ability to set policy priorities.
Finally, Mayor Garcetti announced the appointment of Brenda Shockley as L.A.’s Chief Equity Officer. Even as she continues in her role as Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity, Brenda will helm the City’s work to bring the Racial Equity Action Plans to life, coordinate with different departments, lift up the efforts of the new Civil and Human Rights Commission, and ensure equity remains a key prism for our programs and policies.
Shockley brings decades of experience to this role, including more than 20 years of service as President of Community Build, which she helped found to revitalize South L.A. in response to the civil unrest of 1992. As the Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity, she’s led the Garcetti Administration’s initiatives around the minimum wage, free community college, reentry, housing, and a host of key issues.
“I am honored to serve as the City’s first Chief Equity Officer, and I welcome the opportunity to continue to fight for racial equity and against injustice,” said Deputy Mayor Shockley. “I am proud to work for an administration that recognizes it must start at City Hall if Los Angeles is to become a model of racial fairness.”
With the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and more igniting demonstrations for racial justice throughout Los Angeles and across the country, Mayor Garcetti is determined to turn this moment of righteous outrage into a movement for real reform.
That effort begins with today’s urgent steps to inject equity into City government and policies, alongside recent measures to update police tactics and invest $250 million in public funds toward social services, youth development, health, housing, and healing for Black Angelenos and communities of color, including cuts to the LAPD budget. And it builds on the Mayor’s longstanding dedication to strengthening gender equity and opening the doors of opportunity to women, veterans, people of color, and all Angelenos.