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NAWBO-California Opposes Connerly Initiative

State's Top Women Business-Owners Organization Says Prop. 54 Will Weaken Data Collection About Women Who Want to be Counted

September 23, 2003
Contact: Mary Schnack, NAWBO-California

LOS ANGELES - The National Association of Women Business Owners, California, representing nearly 1 million women business owners in the state, has taken a position against Ward Connerly's Racial Privacy Initiative, Proposition 54, on the October 7 recall ballot.

"Although Proposition 54 does not specifically apply to women, it could have a negative spillover impact on tracking the progress made by women-owned businesses," said Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, NAWBO-California president and owner of California Communications, Inc., in Los Angeles. "If the purchasing officers in the agencies and institutions with whom we do business are not required to keep records on contracts with minority-owned companies, they will also stop tracking contracts with companies owned by women of all races.

"Women business owners rely on this data to track our progress in procurement and to understand how many women business-owners there are in our state and who is doing business with us," Berkehemer-Credaire added. "We oppose any measure that would decrease opportunities for women business owners to do business."

Connerly's initiative would create a state constitutional amendment effective Jan. 1, 2005, which would stop the city, county and state government, including schools and colleges, from compiling ethnic and racial data on workers, students, contractors and others. Its author claims the measure would ensure "racial privacy and create a colorblind society,"

However, NAWBO-California believes that barring the government from collecting ethnic and racial data would lead to diminished incentive to collect and track similar data regarding gender, which includes people of color.

NAWBO does not want to see any measure prohibiting the collection of data about women. NAWBO-California voted to oppose the initiative at its regular statewide board of directors meeting Aug. 8 and 9 in Los Angeles.

"Many of our current NAWBO members, business partners and colleagues belong to racial or ethnic groups," said Berkhemer-Credaire. "A vote for Proposition 54 would hamper opportunities for business growth and contract procurement. California has more women business-owners that any other state in the country. If Prop. 54 were to pass, we would not even know how many women business-owners there are, let alone who's doing business with us.

"Our goal is to launch and track many more women business owners during the years ahead," Berkhemer-Credaire concluded. "We are a vital component of the economic recovery of California and the nation and we want to be counted!"

For more information, visit the NAWBO-California website:
www.middleastwomen.org.

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