Our comments address different types of equity. In this comment we will provide examples of programs that help people with significant disabilities obtain employment is through California's Paid Internship Program (PIP). Other programs include the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) and State Internship Program (SIP).
Paid Internship Program
The Paid Internship Program provides work experience and internship to hire opportunities for people with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 18 -22 throughout the state. Individuals are matched with employers and work in competitive integrated settings. Each internship is paid up to $10,400 per year in wages paid by the state. During the 2019 -2020 fiscal year, 1,834 individuals participated in the PIP.
Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) State Internship Program (SIP)
This program provides an alternate eligibility process for people disabilities to gain employment with the State of California. This program allows the implementation of a more extensive and assistive "on-the-job-certification" approach compared to the standard LEAP certification and exam methods.
The SIP, which will begin in January 2022, grants each selected applicant to receive a paid internship, on-the-job coaching, and career guidance on their way to receiving a prosperous career in civil service. During this internship, these qualified interns will develop the skills and abilities needed to meet the Minimum Qualifications of their intended job classification.
Upon completion of the LEAP or SIP, each successful applicant can obtain their list eligibility for hire by the State of California to apply for State agency positions. LEAP and SIP allows a State agency an opportunity to integrate a fully diverse workforce and contribute to the goals of incorporating any and all qualified applicants into their workplace employment standards. With the LEAP and SIP, integrating candidates with significant disabilities can be more possible than ever before.
There have been two major pieces of statewide legislation that have made a difference in diversity in employment. SB 826 (Jackson) and AB 979 (Holden) are two bills that have passed in recent years.
SB 826 (Jackson) 2018
This bill requires each publicly held corporation whose principal executive offices are located in California to have a minimum number of women on its board of directors, as specified. It further requires the Secretary of State (SOS) to review and issue reports regarding corporations' compliance with the bill's provisions and to impose fines for violations of the bill, as specified.
According to reports, gender diversity on corporate boards has improved drastically in the short amount of time since this law has been implemented. Hundreds of corporate boards are now in compliance in the state. Annalisa Barrett, a professor of corporate governance at the University of San Diego and a senior advisor to the KPMG Board Leadership, says prior to SB 826 being enacted, about 30% of California headquartered publicly traded companies had all male boards. In 2020, that number went down to 5%.
AB 979 (Holden) 2020
Requires each publicly held corporation whose principal executive offices are located in California to have a minimum number of directors from underrepresented communities on its board of directors, as specified.
This bill goes into effect and will be able to be evaluated in 2022. As stated in the findings and declarations of the bill, according to 2018 data from Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity, the percentages of Fortune 500 company board seats held by people identified as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino(a), and Asian/Pacific Islander were 8.6%, 3.8%, and 3.7%, respectively. The same study showed that 84% of board seats were held by people identified as white, which over-represents the group's share of the general population by 22 percentage points.
Disability Rights California believes that each person with a disability should have the opportunity to work in a competitive integrated employment (CIE) environment. This means that people should be paid fairly and competitively, working with people with and without disabilities, and should have opportunities for full or part time employment. These two bills stated above are examples of the possibilities in California and throughout the country for diversity, equity and inclusion. Standards for disability inclusion should be discussed on a policy level to encourage employers at all levels to hire people with disabilities.