SEASON 1: Understanding the Issues

Gov. Hobbs details importance of DEI effort in new administration

Six months after winning one of the most hotly-contested elections in state history, first-term Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs joined It Happens at STN to lay out her vision for building a diverse administration at the Capitol.

In the June Edition Of Community Collaborative, Gov. Hobbs has an engaging conversation with Arizona Hispanic Chamber CEO Monica Villalobos and Black Chamber Of Arizona CEO Robin Reed, emphasizing the vitality of diversity in state government, paving the way for concrete actions, and unveiling the implications for companies seeking to do business in Arizona.

Villalobos also talks about being part of Hobbs’s transition team, helping to build one of the most diverse administrations in Arizona history.

Community Collaborative is part of It Happens at STN, a local news hour dedicated to community growth and actionable solutions. 

Each month, business leaders deliver best practices for diversity, equity and inclusion that are effective and applicable.

Watch the Community Collaborative Action Panel



Action Panelists

Gov. Katie Hobbs

Robin Reed

Monica Villalobos

Action Panelists

Gov. Katie Hobbs

Governor – Arizona

Robin Reed

CEO – Black Chamber of Arizona

Monica Villalobos

CEO – Arizona Hispanic Chamber

"It's so important as leaders that we see the platform that we have, and we use that platform not just to talk the talk, but to actually take the action that's required."
Gov. Katie Hobbs

From the Start

I’m really proud of the action that we’ve taken just in these few short months of [the] administration. We created the first-ever DEIA position in the Governor’s office. So we’re leading right from the top.

Ariel [Morin] is our DEIA Director. She’s really tasked with creating this DEI framework for the entire state and across every state agency. We have 37,000 employees at the state. So, doing this from the top level is going to have significant impact in terms of creating that culture that really is inclusive. It’s about so much more than just talking the talk.

Critical Visibility

We [Arizona] are a hub of innovation, and we’re going to continue to cultivate that if we continue to bring in diverse perspectives. So that’s really critical as a state, as we continue the economic trajectory that we’re on. It really is about, for me and my administration, making sure that administration reflects the diversity of the state. Then when people come and they’re looking at Arizona as a place to do business, it’s something that’s very visible.

Walk the Walk

It’s great to see so many community leaders here being a part of this conversation. It’s so important as leaders that we see the platform that we have, and we use that platform not just to talk the talk, but to actually take the action that’s required. I think it’s incumbent on all of us as leaders to do that and make sure that we are reflecting the changes that we want to see in terms of diversity.

Sometimes that means taking a tough stand against, um, really extreme rhetoric on one side or the other. But we have an obligation as leaders to do that.

"We're taking national data and we're shrinking it down to Arizona. But we're not the same as other states."
Robin Reed

Move with Purpose

I would like to say to the Governor, I really appreciate how intentional you were about creating a diverse administration. That’s how it happens. It has to be on purpose.

Arizona is different. I’m born and raised in Oakland, [a] very large African American population. Atlanta, large African American population, Houston. When you’re moving initiatives in states like that, it’s a little easier because of the impact that it makes. Here with only 5% of the population, it’s a little bit harder. We’ve got to be more deliberate and more purposeful in how we approach it.

Better Data

One of the ways I believe we can do that here [in Arizona], is by doing what we can to modify our race- and gender-neutral status. Then we can collect data. The work that Monica [Villalobos] and myself do every day in so many other great organizations is kind of flying blind. We’re, we’re taking national data and we’re shrinking it down to Arizona. But we’re not the same as other states.

If we can modify that race- and gender-neutral status, we can start collecting the data so that we are deploying the services that are needed to who needs them, and when. 

Beyond ‘Check the Box’

We can’t approach DEI alphabetically or incidentally. We’ve got to do so really from the right standpoint. Check the box has changed because the employees have decided to stand behind what they believe and what’s important. So we can no longer just check a box because you hire an individual that looks a certain way. Now, you’re not even going to get the talent to come apply to your company if they’re not comfortable that you have a strong DEI initiative within the organization.

Get Involved

Be active allies when you’re in a room. When you know, a group isn’t represented, be the one who speaks up. Have we considered the disabled community? Have we considered the LGBTQ+ community? Have we considered the myriad [of] other communities? Because they’re all part of a diverse environment, right? We don’t represent all-inclusive diversity.

So be that ally ask. And if you don’t have an answer in the room you’re in, be willing to go outside, get the answer, and come back to your group and share that information.

"You're in a state that is clearly diverse, that clearly appreciates diversity. If you're going to be a company here, you have to be a good steward of that as well."
Monica Villalobos

Governor’s Transition Team

It’s been a phenomenal opportunity. I’m so grateful to the Governor and all of the administration. I was most impressed by the fact that when the Governor called, all she said was, “Bring me the best and the brightest there is.” This was not about favors. It was truly about who is most qualified to be in [the] administration. I think we achieved that. My understanding is that it is one of the most-diverse administrations in the history of Arizona. That is thanks to the Governor giving us the space and the time to do that.

Two-way Street

We have companies that come to us and they talk about [Arizona’s] diverse population; these are future consumers. That’s great, and that’s wonderful, but it’s halfway through the conversation. The first part of that conversation has to be, what do you look like on the inside? What does your company look like? You’re in a state that is clearly diverse, that clearly appreciates diversity. If you’re going to be a company here, you have to be a good steward of that as well.

Consistency is Key

My message is always: it’s not one initiative. It’s not Hispanic Heritage or Black History Month. We’re not Elf on a Shelf. You don’t pull us out for a month and do everything at that point. You really have to be consistent in many ways.

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