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New diversity bylaw language idea

Diversity bylaw committee documents

[This is not a proposal from the diversity language committee, but to the committee. - ed.]


From: Carol Spooner
Date: Thu May 15, 2003 7:51 pm
Subject: new diversity idea

Because the KPFA LAB misunderstood the DLC proposal last night (we thought that it did not permit skipping over anyone in order to achieve greater diversity) David Greene thought about it and said that it would be possible to run the election to see how many seats would create the greatest diversity and to elect that many candidates. (Oh the wonders of computer programs.)

I think there is real potential in this idea -- because if no one is skipped over because of race/ethnicity/gender (not even white men) then I believe the s/election of delegates is legally sound.

Under an added seats model, it is possible that you might end up with a more diverse board if you seat the top three "unelected" vote-getters without skipping over any if they are (1) a white man, (2) a Latina, and (3) an Asian woman.

This got me thinking about the original iPNB straw poll vote about the size of the LSBs -- we voted that the maximum size should be 24, but that we would accept a range of from 16-24 LSB members.

I strongly believe that 24 is the MAXIMUM size functional board -- it's really too big for productive meetings. It's also possible that you would get more relative diversity balance if the board were smaller (for example, if the last four candidates elected were white men).

(Yes, I know some other organizations have large boards. But they do all their work through committees, and the full board just meets to "rubber stamp" the committee recommendations. I don't believe that would work for Pacifica, where everyone is always working to reinvent the wheel.)

But what if we said the LSB could be from 16-24 members, and the size of the board would be determined by whatever election results produced the most diverse results?

You would need criteria to determine what the most diverse results are -- I suggest there are 3 criteria (a thought also borrowed from David Greene, with some tweaking by me).

1) "Absolute" diversity -- this would be the number of identified diversity categories that actually were represented on the LSB. So, for example, if the COI recommended diversity goals of 5% Indigenous, 10% Asian, 20% African American, 20% Latino, 5% "other" non-white, 10% disabled and 20% LGBT -- then the absolute diversity would be the number of those categories that had AT LEAST one person elected to the LSB.

2) "Relative" diversity -- this would be the number of those categories that met or exceeded their target percentage goals in the election.

3) Gender diversity -- this would be the number of seats that resulted in the closest to 50% balance in gender representation.

4) Smallest board -- this would be the election result that was the smallest board.

So you would run the election and analyze whether a 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, or 24 person board produced the greatest diversity.

You would decide that by giving the result 1 point for having the greatest "absolute diversity", 1 point for having the greatest "relative diversity" and 1 point for having the greatest "gender diversity". If there was a tie among board sizes, then the smallest board would be elected.

What do people think of this concept?



A Response to Spooner proposal:

--- In NewPacifica@yahoogroups.com, Leslie Radford [KPFK area] wrote:


In your draft of Plan A, you interjected about added seats, "Only such number of Delegates shall be selected as are minimally required...."

In your proposal below, the theme re-emerges: as few people of color and women as possible. To this end, you are trying to privilege virtually any criteria over representation based on signal area demographics.

One possible combination for the board will have the best "absolute diversity," with one seat in as many categories as possible. One will have the best "relative diversity," the closest to matching signal area demographics for diversity. One will have the best "gender diversity," the closest to 50% women. The deciding criterion in your model, as I read it, is small boards--the one with the smallest board size wins.

A couple of assumptions, not absolute, but most likely: 1) people of color are less likely to be high vote getters than white people and 2) white women are likely to be higher vote getters than people of color.

In your model the smallest board is always the winner. If the smallest board is the gender diversity board, you have no guarantee of diversity for people of color or anyone else. If the smallest board is the one with absolute diversity, you might be assured of one seat for a Latin@ in Los Angeles, but that's not even close to equitable representation based on the Latin@ population here. The best case is the least likely one (as I'll explain below), the one with relative diversity. But even the relative diversity board has no assurance of gender diversity. And in any case, small boards mean less diversity: it would be even better to have a larger board, with even more diverse representation.

In most instances, "relative diversity" is going to lose. If the electorate is close to demographic diversity and has voted more than one seat to several non-white groups, the resulting board would almost always be bigger than an "absolutely diverse" board comprised of one seat for each underrepresented group. But in your plan small boards are better than balanced, demographic representation.

If there's a propensity at Pacifica to prefer white women to people of color, most likely the "gender diversity" board will be larger than the "absolute diversity" board. And a gender diverse board has no guarantee of ethnic diversity, in any case.

So the most likely board to win is the "absolute diversity" board, which has the broadest distribution of single seats to peoples of color. Not only does this configuration have no guarantee that any women at all are seated, it pretty well assures us that we will have fewer people of color than signal area demographics, and it is very little assurance of diversity at all.

If, for instance, there are 16 white people and three people from three underrepresented categories (an African-American, a person of Asian descent, and a gay man) elected to seats 17-19, this absolute diversity would trump a relatively diverse board of 16 white people plus 3 African-Americans, 3 Asian/Pacific Islanders, and one gay man in seats 17-24, because the resulting board in the first instance would be the smaller board. But 3:19 is much less representation for underrepresented people than 7:24.

But neither of these are likely, because, as we premised earlier, Pacifica is little different from most Affirmative Action agencies that have the effect of preferencing white women over people of color. The chances are that 50% women will be reached before any demographic combination that ends up with 50% or more people of color, so the gender diverse board will be selected over the 19- or 24-seat boards above. A board that looks like you and me, Carol, will be much more likely than a board that looks like Shiu Hung and Willie Ratcliffe.

As I read this, there is no criteria for determining the winner if 3 people from underrepresented groups are voted into seats 22-24 vs. those 3 African-Americans, 3 Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 1 gay guy in seats 18-24. Nor is there any criteria for deciding which board wins if there are 16 seats, which is the preference in your plan, or for any other combination where the lowest number of seats is the same.

There are two possiblities: there will be no underrepresented people in seats 17-24, or there will be some. In the former, you give us no way of deciding which configuration wins. In the latter, it is most likely that absolute diversity, with its tendency to fewer people of color, will beat relative diversity, with its preference for more people of color. And the social preference for white women means that your gender diversity plan will usually trump either of the other plans.

OK, besides showing a distinct prediliction for concentrating power in the hands of a few, rather than many, the "small boards" priority in this scheme will almost always preference as few people of color as possible, in absolute numbers and in proportion to the whole. The only part of this that amounts to just representation is the one based on demographic representation, and it's the least likely to succeed. Carol, like Dave Fertig's maneuver to reduce the number of seats in the DLC plan to only 5, yours is another way to give Pacifica as little affirmative action as possible. Give it up--it's getting old.

--Leslie R.


Diversity bylaw committee documents

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