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Industry Insights

Moreno: The Census and Eliminating Bias

  • State: California

In case you missed it, the 2020 Census data released earlier last month revealed a few not-so-astonishing facts that for Californians have been the norm for quite some time: The United States is becoming more diverse, multiethnic, multiracial and less white.

Cynthia Moreno

Cynthia Moreno

According to the report, people of color as a whole represented 43% of the total U.S. population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010. Additionally, those who identified as Hispanic, Latino or multiracial grew the most.

In California, it was no surprise that the Latino population became the largest racial or ethnic group in the state, given it has enjoyed that plurality for many years. To date, it represents nearly 40% of Californians, a slight increase from 37.6% in 2010. The non-Latino white population in California was 34.7% in 2020.

What these census numbers mean to everyday Californians is that while we enjoy the unique experiences, cultural richness and historical depth of each unique individual who composes our demographics and adds to the colorful and bright mosaic that continues to make California one of the most sought out states to reside, it is still not reflected in its laws and policies.

One important way to start addressing this change could be by first eliminating bias in the workers’ compensation system.

As the state population continues to diversify, so does the labor force. As such, understanding both conscious and unconscious bias and being culturally competent is essential when handling workers’ compensation claims.

You can’t help an injured worker if you don’t “know” the injured worker.

What workers’ compensation attorneys will find now and in the future is that in order to better assist an injured worker, it is likely that the worker will be from a different cultural, ethnic or racial background, or one who may or may not speak English, and it will continue to become the norm.

Thus, the value of eliminating bias from the workers’ compensation system will lead to a reduction in claim costs overall, better treatment outcomes for an injured worker and better case decisions.

Let’s hope California moves in the right direction.

Cynthia Moreno is communications director for the California Applicants' Attorneys Association. This opinion is republished, with permission, from the CAAA website.

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