Release: Lieberman Introduces Plan To Reaffirm the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Increase Funding to the Commission on African American Affairs

December 8, 2021
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Release: Lieberman Introduces Plan To Reaffirm the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Increase Funding to the Commission on African American Affairs 

PHOENIX, AZ - In consultation with stakeholders and community leaders, candidate for Arizona Governor Aaron Lieberman is releasing his plan to reaffirm the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity (GOEO) and provide increased funding to the Commission on African American Affairs to empower both offices to meet their objectives and achieve their purpose.  

Lieberman made the following statement regarding the GOEO: 

"State government should act as an example to all organizations in Arizona as a fair and forthright leader when it comes to equal opportunity and the rights of working people. What was clear is that in the Talonya Adams discrimination verdict, Katie Hobbs failed to meet that standard.  It is for this reason and more, that as governor I will move to strengthen those entities charged with serving as guardians and the voice of state employees and the people of Arizona. Real leaders solve problems, they don’t run away from them. What happened to Talonya Adams was wrong.  Here’s my plan to make sure if any state employee finds themselves in that same situation, they will have real support from the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity.

"Talonya Adams’ case illustrates all too well the lack of support and infrastructure to ensure employees for the State of Arizona are treated in a fair and equitable manner. Ms. Adams received 33% less pay than her white peers who were doing the same job, and underqualified white men were repeatedly both promoted and received raises during her tenure in the Senate. Once these pay inequities were revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request and publication by the Capitol Times, Ms. Adams did not know who to contact or what process to follow to ensure immediate redress for her case.

"Meanwhile, the Governor's Office of Equal Opportunity is tasked with administering the State’s Equal Opportunity Guidelines, monitoring compliance with State Agency equal opportunity plans, and processing State of Arizona employee equal opportunity complaints. The office did absolutely nothing to help Ms. Adams deal with the discrimination she faced.  In fact, the Office has not published an annual report detailing both its activities and findings related to the under-utilization of minorities, women and people with disabilities in state government; and the promotion of economic enrichment among low income and minority populations in over four years. 

"On my first day in office, I will issue an executive order to revamp the Governor’s Office on Equal Opportunity and ensure it has the resources needed to refocus on its core mission.” 

Specifically, the Lieberman Administration will: 

  1. Audit. The new administration will implement a full audit of the office to document areas of success or underperformance and develop an action plan to ensure that mission is being met.
  2. Streamline Complaint Process. State employees or job applicants, by law, are protected from discrimination because of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), or disability. The law also protects employees or job applicants from retaliation if they oppose employment discrimination, file a complaint of discrimination, or participate in the EEO complaint process (even if the complaint is not theirs) The new administration will act to streamline and update the Complaint Intake Process to ensure intakes are easy, non-threatening, with an added statement on rights of all state employees to be able to access the complaint process in a fair and confidential manner.  
  3. Require Reporting. The new administration will instruct the office to immediately prepare a framework for a newly administered annual report to ensure transparency and accountability. Once published, the report will be made available to the public and made easily accessible on the State’s GOEO website.  

The report will contain:

  •  A State Hiring Summary (By calendar year detailing the number of state employees hired and demographic distribution)
  • Workforce Analysis (By calendar year a detailed analysis of state total workforce based on EEOC identified race/ethnicity and gender by comparing the state's employees in those demographics, by job categories, to their demographics in the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) to determine whether the state is at parity in relation to the CLF. 
  • All EEO-4 Reports (Most recent mandatory biennial Federal Equal Employment Opportunity report that details headcount of full time, other than full time, and newly hired employees, distribution by EEOC-identified race, ethnicity, and gender demographics by job and salary range categories. 
  • All internal and external EEO complaints reported to GOEO by all state agencies including the State Legislature.
  • Summary of GOEO’s community outreach and engagement program to underutilized/underserved communities. 

Lieberman made the following statement regarding the Arizona Commission on African American Affairs:

"The challenges facing the African American community do not end with discriminatory pay practices for state employees.  The Arizona Commission of African American Affairs seeks to increase African American participation in all levels of state Government, as well as assisting the Legislature in assuring that the concerns of the African American citizens are heard and considered when passing legislation. 

"Unfortunately, the commission has been flat-funded and understaffed since its inception seven and a half years ago. In their most recent budget request to the Governor's office, the Commission’s request for their first new computers and printers since the office was created, as well as for a second full-time employee, were denied.  

"Like so much of our state government, the Commission has been hampered in its ability to do its job by a total lack of resources and investment by the Ducey Administration in ensuring the Commission is able to pursue its important work.”

In the Lieberman Administration’s first budget proposal to be introduced in January of 2023, the new administration will propose: 

  1. Doubling the funding provided to the Arizona Commission on African American Affairs, including increased funding for a full-time Executive Director and Public Information Officer (liaison). (PIO as requested most recently in Budget Issues List FY 19’ and 20’)  
  2. Increase allocated funds committed to community engagement events, summits, and outreach. (See Budget Issues List FY 19’ and 20’) 
  3. Upgrade/supply needed equipment (See Budget Issues List FY 19’ and 20’) as requested by the commission to address the needs of the community. 
  4. Hire Additional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leads at all state agencies. DEI Leads will act to ensure the state’s commitment to equality is being represented and met every day in every state agency. As a member of the leadership team in each agency, leads will focus on training, incentives, communication practices, and metrics related to DEI. Additionally, they would be tasked with ensuring there is a clear process for developing a culturally competent response to issues that the agency is dealing with across the diverse employee and constituency base. 
  5. Call on the State House and State Senate to employ a full-time Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead who would be charged with expanding opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the page program, as independent research staff, the clerk’s office, and in the pipeline for policy advisor positions as they become available. 

Aaron Lieberman is a former state representative for Legislative District 28 and a social entrepreneur. He is a candidate for governor of Arizona. After seeing first-hand the effectiveness and success of early childhood intervention programs, Aaron launched Jumpstart, a national nonprofit to ensure all children had the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.  To date, more than 50,000 college students have served, working with more than 100,000 children and earning over $200 million in scholarships through AmeriCorps. Later, he founded Acelero Learning to close the achievement gap for Head Start children. Impacting over 40,000 kids every day, children enrolled in Acelero’s programs make gains at nearly three times the national average. Aaron was born and raised in Arizona. He and his wife live in Phoenix, where they’re raising their two sons. Aaron’s daughter is studying history at Yale, his alma mater.

For more information, please visit Follow Aaron on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram at @aaron4az.