Supervisor Lawson-Remer Fights & Wins For Better Data Equity For AA & NHPI People In County Programs

News Date

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today approved a significant policy by Supervisor  Terra Lawson-Remer aimed at rectifying long-standing inequities within the County's racial and ethnicity data systems, focusing particularly on improving the representation and accuracy of data concerning Asian American & Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) communities.

The policy  responds to what studies  found to be significant disparities in health, social, and economic data among AA & NHPI individuals — people from more than 50 countries and more than 100 different preferred languages who have been historically combined into broad racial categories. 

"Accurate and detailed data is foundational to equitable governance and building a County that works for all of us," said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors. "This is about recognizing the unique challenges and contributions of our AA & NHPI communities by moving beyond the overly broad categories that have historically masked their true experiences. Our action today ensures that no one will be overlooked in our public policies."

Supervisor Lawson-Remer’s policy cited the importance of disaggregated data to show that certain communities, such as Samoans, experienced a COVID-19 death rate twice as high as the overall population in California, a stark reality that was hidden by our default data aggregation practices.

Today’s action by the Board of Supervisors also directs the County to take steps to ensure greater representation and diversity in County leadership, including enhancing the resources available to Employee Resource Groups to support workforce development, mentorship, and training.

A 2022 McKinsey report found that while many organizations focus hiring entry-level AA & NHPIs, many do not make it up the executive ladder due to several factors: model minority myth, workplace bias, cultural misunderstanding, lack of mentorship and sponsorship, as well as management norms that sometimes brush up against AA & NHPI cultural values, such as speaking up, advocating for opinions, and leading with authority.

The Board's approval today directs the Interim Chief Administrative Officer to:

  • Develop an implementation plan to adopt disaggregated race and ethnicity data standards in line with federal guidance, addressing necessary updates to departmental data systems for collecting, tracking, reporting, and sharing detailed data, monitor shifts in state and federal guidelines, and establish a community engagement and education process involving community and advocacy organizations focused on AA & NHPI populations.

  • Collaborate with the County’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and the ERG Council to enhance support for initiatives aimed at supporting professional development and addressing leadership gaps among County employees.

Ahead of the vote, Supervisor Lawson-Remer in partnership with Chairwoman Nora Vargas presented proclamations to 16 AA & NHPI organizations honoring them for their efforts to highlight and uplift the diversity of San Diego County:

  1. Ahahui Kiwaila Hawai’I O San Diego

  2. Asian Business Association (ABA)

  3. Asian Culture & Media Alliance 

  4. Asian Pacific Alliance of County Employees (APACE)

  5. Asian Pacific American American Labor Alliance 

  6. Asian Solidarity Collective

  7. County of San Diego Filipino-American Employees Association (CSDFEA)

  8. Hui O Hawai'i San Diego

  9. Kanaka Davis Trust Group 

  10. Micronesian Outreach Ministries USA (MOMUSA)

  11. Pacific Islander Festival Association 

  12. Pacific Islander Society of County Employees (PISCE)

  13. San Diego API Coalition

  14. San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

  15. Sons and Daughters of Guam Club

  16. Taupou Samoa Cultural Arts

Read the full policy here.


San Diego's AA & NHPI communities are among the largest in the nation, comprising over 425,000 people or nearly 14% of the regional population. Historically, the lumping together of diverse groups under broad categories has masked significant disparities, such as varying life expectancies and stark health outcomes. 

As one of the region's largest employers with over 20,000 staff, the County of San Diego actively promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion through initiatives like its Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion, the creation of an Office of Equity and Racial Justice, and programs supporting neurodivergent workforce development and County Employee Resource Groups. Despite these efforts, the leadership within the County remains disproportionately white, with Hispanic, Black, and AA & NHPI communities significantly underrepresented.