In June 2021, San José State University Human Rights Institute released its annual Silicon Valley Pain Index, a report that is “meant to reflect fundamental International Human Rights standards and to serve as a measure of Santa Clara County’s performance as a ‘human rights county.’” Silicon Valley Community Foundation was an early funder of this report.
To illustrate inequality in the region, the Pain Index lines up more than 80 statistics addressing a variety of issues, from the percentage of Google employees who are Latinx women, to the percentage of people who have been vaccinated from different communities, to the number of new homes needed to be built in order to provide housing for the county’s extremely low-income residents, and much more.
In a press conference, William Armaline, director of SJSU’s Human Rights Institute, said, “One thing that I want to point out about the Index is this information we put together is not terribly difficult to find, and what that tells us is these problems are not, in fact, being hidden — they’re being normalized.”
Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, SJSU sociology professor and lead author, said, “The Pain Index, which examines over 60 studies that have been done on Silicon Valley, shows that the level of inequality during the COVID pandemic has gone from bad to horrific.”
“The report underlines the urgency of SVCF’s mission to take on root causes of systemic racism and wealth inequality in the Bay Area,” Avo Makdessian, SVCF’s vice president of community partnerships and learning, added. “The Pain Index shows, in plain numbers, many inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic, including medical access and the cost of housing, and that we still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that we build back a region that is inclusive of everyone.”
The full Silicon Valley Pain Index is just a few pages, and includes links to all its sources. Below, you can also watch the full press conference, which featured Armaline, Myers-Lipton, SJSU Director of Advocacy for Racial Justice Jahmal Williams, Alum Rock Union School District Board President Corina Herrera-Loera, Executive Director of Sacred Heart Community Service Poncho Guevara, CEO of the Bill Wilson Center Sparky Harlan, San José Unified Equity Coalition representative Tomara Hall and Silicon Valley Faith Collaborative representative Rev. Steve Pinkston.