A rising economy, a massive housing shortage and growing traffic in the Bay Area are causing major changes across the Northern California megaregion that represent both opportunities and challenges. The Bay Area Council is spearheading an effort to bring together business, government, academic and civic leaders from across the megaregion on planning to embrace the former and minimize the latter. The Council last week traveled to Stockton where CEO Jim Wunderman presided over a meeting that included mayors from Stockton, Merced, Modesto and Livermore, leaders from key rail and regional planning organizations, and business and academic leaders.
In addition to hearing about the foundational research on the Northern California megaregion put together by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and University of the Pacific, participants focused on the potential for future rail investments–in the ACE train and high speed rail–to spur economic development. The meeting, hosted by University of the Pacific in partnership with Valley Vision, was the first of a series of meetings the Council is convening across the megaregion in the coming months that will seek to produce a common policy advocacy agenda for megaregional stakeholders. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s work on the Northern California Megaregion, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf met with the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors Thursday to discuss a range of pressing issues, from healthcare reform and homelessness to infrastructure investment and public safety. Board Chairman and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed both leaders to a packed room at Kaiser’s Oakland headquarters. Feinstein updated the Board on her efforts to ban assault weapons, an issue she has championed for decades. She also discussed the importance of making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permanent as well as her interest in leveraging public private partnerships to repair and rebuild the nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.
Investing to expand and improve the region’s congested transportation system was also a top issue as Feinstein emphasized the need for a new crossing south of the Bay Bridge. Tyson thanked Feinstein for her great leadership and urged Council members to join a business delegation we’re leading to D.C. in May to promote California’s importance to the nation as some critics frame the Golden State as out of control.
Feinstein also gave warm praise for Mayor Schaaf, who described the progress Oakland is making in turning around years of crime and addressing a complicated homeless problem. Schaaf also highlighted a measure she is championing for the November ballot—the Oakland Children’s Initiative—that would invest in expanding access to early education and other early childhood programs. She touted the huge returns that early childhood investments have in increasing employment opportunities and avoiding expensive social and public safety costs. This is an issue that has long been a priority for the Council, whose executive leadership has expressed early support for Schaaf’s November measure as she works to get it placed on the ballot. The Council extends its gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for hosting our meeting.
The world celebrated International Women’s Day on Thursday to honor the social, economic, and political achievements of women across the globe and highlight the considerable work that still needs to be done to provide more leadership and economic opportunities for women and eliminate gender inequity in the workplace and elsewhere. The day was marked by actions across the globe, with women walking out on strike in Europe to protest the gender pay gap and holding #MeToo rallies in South Korea. In the Bay Area and throughout California, women continue to be underrepresented in top leadership roles across many industries and challenged by some workplace practices.
The Bay Area Council has been working through our Gender Equity and Diversity Committee to address these issues, including releasing a Best Practices Resource Guide to build gender equity in the workplace.
You can join the Council’s Gender Equity and Diversity Committee at one of our upcoming meetings to discuss opportunities to advance gender parity in the workplace. On March 30 the committee will convene to hear the results of a transformative Bain & Company study about how flexible workplace policies support thriving employees (not just women) and improve overall employee retention within companies.
On April 12 we are honored to be hosting state Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) for a discussion on her new bill to address the rampant culture of sexual harassment across the nation. In response to the #MeToo movement, SB 820 would ban secret settlements in the cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault in an effort to address cultures of predatory behavior in the workplace. A new NBC News poll released today revealed that a majority of Americans believe the #MeToo movement has helped address gender inequality.
To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity & Diversity Committee work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.
There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.
The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.
Behind the Bay Area Council’s continuing advocacy, the California legislature this year took its first (albeit modest) actions to address the state’s historic housing crisis. Much, much more needs to be done, and the Council’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, this week approved a 2018 policy agenda that calls for escalating our work to achieve deeper, stronger and more effective reforms for spurring the tsunami of new housing the state so badly needs. Already, the Council is identifying new legislation for 2018 that can speed the approval and bring down the cost of new housing.
The 2018 agenda also prioritizes ridding the scourge of traffic fom the Bay Area’s roads and highways and getting more commuters out of their vehicles and into ferries, carpools, shuttles and other forms of transit. The Council is gearing up now for a campaign to win passage of Regional Measure 3, a $4.4 billion transportation investment plan that is expected to hit the June 2018 ballot. Rounding out the Council’s top policy priorities for 2018 is building a stronger workforce pipeline to meet the future needs of the region’s employers. The Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is making immense strides to better align educators and employers to close the region’s yawning middle skills and talent gap, as well as creating new career opportunities for underserved youth.
Along with the top three policy priority areas, the 2018 agenda includes gender equity and workforce diversity, healthcare, advanced communication infrastructure, China and global innovation, carbon reduction and renewables, and water and climate resiliency.
The policy agenda was approved Thursday (Dec. 7) during a meeting hosted by new member Santa Clara University. The Board also welcomed state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. and applauded him for his incredible leadership as the author this year of SB 1, which invests $52 billion in statewide transportation improvements, and SB 595, which authorized the vote on Regional Measure 3. Beall talked about both measures and outlined his plans for new legislation for delivering transportation projects faster and at lower cost. The Council will be working closely with Sen. Beall on that project delivery legislation.
The issue of sexual harassment has burst into the open in recent months as a growing number of women across the country have shared graphic and painful stories of abuse, assault and other inappropriate workplace behavior by male leaders, colleagues and others. The stories have exposed an insidious and systemic culture of abuse that women—across all industries and representing all socio-economic groups—have felt powerless to confront because of shame, embarrassment, fear of retribution, and legitimate concerns that their careers would be jeopardized, among many other reasons.
Time Magazine this week honored a handful of women as its “Person of the Year” for their courage in making their stories public, shining a light on the issue and empowering other women to come forward. Dubbed “The Silence Breakers,” this group of five women included Adama Iwu, a top government relations executive for Bay Area Council member Visa.
Iwu in October co-founded We Said Enough, a group that is working to expose a culture of abuse and harassment in California government and hold accountable perpertrators and enablers. More than 140 women, including legislators, penned an oped in the Los Angeles Times that announced “we’re done with this” and calling on both women and men to join in finding solutions. The Council applauds the courage and actions of leaders like Iwu in breaking the silence on sexual harassment. Through our Gender Equity Committee, we have been working with member companies to get more women into higher positions of leadership, address issues of gender bias and develop policies and practices for creating workplace cultures that take a zero tolerance stance against all forms of sexual abuse and harassment. To learn more about the Council’s gender equity work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.
Joined by leaders from industry, academia and philanthropy, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee on Monday (Oct. 2) explored new approaches to addressing the burgeoning skills and talent gaps affecting employers’ bottom lines and workers’ livelihoods. AT&T California President and Council Executive Committee member Ken McNeely joined Mitchell Stevens, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Research through Online Learning, Don Howard, President and CEO of the Irvine Foundation, and Felix Ortiz, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Viridis Learning, for a discussion on the roles of employers, educators and job seekers in keeping up with our changing economy. The discussion also emphasized the need for interconnectedness and alignment between these entities, expanded career pathways and work-based learning opportunities, and funding of innovative efforts. Our thanks to Council member Salesforce for hosting the event.
Those in the room agreed that our region urgently needs to collaboratively implement solutions, such as industry-led partnerships with school districts, community colleges, and four-year universities, in order to see long-lasting outcomes and systems change. With the guidance of Bay Area Council members and thought leaders like those that participated in Monday’s meeting, the Workforce of the Future Committee is pursuing efforts like the Occupational Councils and the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership to support systems change by aligning hiring needs with educational offerings, and addressing barriers to entry faced by specific historically underrepresented populations, respectively. To participate in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.
“Casting a wide net” was agreed upon as a top priority by Bay Area Council member participants at the Workforce of the Future Committee’s third Employer Best Practices Workshop this week (Sept. 6) focused on Talent Pipeline Partnerships. Participants agreed that in order to connect with the talent they need to fill their open jobs, expanded outreach and relationship-building with a wide array of training and education partners would be required on their part. Best practices regarding partnership models, internal organization of pipelines, and long-term investment in future workers bubbled up as key takeaway items. Companies across industries, including utilities, transportation, and banking are facing growing needs for diverse, qualified, and loyal workers and must get creative in their workforce planning strategies. To learn more about how the Bay Area Council is supporting this creativity through our various programs such as the Best Practices Workshop series, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.
Gender differences in communications styles can often adversely affect women in the workplace, as men are more likely to talk more and suggest ideas in meetings while women are more likely to be interrupted and given less credit for their ideas. In fact, male executives who speak more are viewed as 10 percent more competent, while women who do the same are viewed as 14 percent less competent by their peers. To address this issue, the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee hosted an interactive Executive Presence Workshop led by member company Mandel Communications. The workshop focused on communication skills that will help women cut through this bias and position themselves as confident leaders within their companies. The Council’s Best Practices Resources Guide, released last year, highlighted executive presence and other training programs as important strategies for building gender equity within companies.
The Committee also heard about San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell’s new legislative proposal to boost female representation in elected office, on corporate boards, in public art, and anywhere else in public view. Only 2 out of 87 public statues in San Francisco represent real women, and this ordinance would enact a new statue of Maya Angelou as a first step in getting to 30 percent female representation by 2020. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.
On Tuesday (June 27), Bay Area Council Workforce of the Future Committee Chair Julius Robinson, Managing Director & Group Head, Corporate Social Responsibilities for the Americas for MUFG Union Bank, led the second peer-to-peer employer workshop focused on improve regional workforce diversity. Complementing the Bay Area Council’s Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP), a program to expand workforce opportunity to young men of color across the region, this workshop brought employers from Bayer, Recology, Bank of the West, Uber, and Dolby to name a few, to share best practices and develop solutions to improve workforce diversity in the Bay Area.
During the workshop, members discussed the importance of holding leadership accountable, mitigating unconscious bias, and sharing their best practices with other organizations. These companies recognize that their continued success in part lies in the diversity of thought that candidates bring to their jobs. A recent survey published by Deloitte revealed that companies with higher diversity across their workforce are 35 percent more likely to see returns above national industry medians. To further the impact of diversity, 80 percent of candidates in the US and the Bay Area consider inclusion as an “important factor to choosing an employer.”
This workshop was the second in a three-part series designed to generate best practices across industry sectors facing similar challenges to increase worked based learning, diversity, and community partnerships that all drive more talent from our communities into livable wage jobs. To engage in Workforce of the Future Committee and be part of the next workshop, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.