City government closing gender pay gap

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By Chris Teale (File photo)

The gender pay gap between male and female city employees stands at just under 6 percent according to a report issued last month.

In a study of all 2,812 regular full-time and part-time positions, female city staffers were found to earn on average 94 percent of their male counterparts. Studies by the U.S. Department of Labor show women nationwide earn 79 percent of their male peers, for a national pay gap of 21 percent.

And in job titles held by more than one employee — the case for three quarters of city employees — women earn approximately 1 percent more on average than men.

The report came as a result of a request from the city’s commission on women as part of an examination of the city’s pay structure.

Jen Jenkins, the city’s human resources manager for classification and compensation, said the employee salaries analyzed did not include so-called “administratively determined” positions like city councilors and council’s appointed staff: the city manager, city attorney and city clerk.

Jenkins said those positions were not included — but jobs like deputy city managers and assistant city attorneys were — as salaries for elected and council-appointed positions are not on a city pay scale and not managed by the city’s human resources department.

The city’s data found that 1,449 men and 1,363 women work at City Hall, and receive an average yearly salary of $69,158.35 and $65,012.86, respectively. On average, men have served nine years and women 10, with male employees 43 years old on average and women 45 years old.

The report also breaks down the city’s employment figures by job category, from officials and administrators down to service and maintenance employees. The data found that female officials and administrators on average make 1.78 percent more than their male peers, while female administrative support workers make 9.53 percent on average more than their male counterparts.

The 17 female service and maintenance workers were found to make 2.22 percent more on average than men in the same job category.

But males in the professional category made an average of 7.33 percent more than women, made 8.85 percent on average more as technicians and 1.95 percent more in protective service.

The report also breaks down employees’ years of service to the city, in part due to national statistics.

“Some of the national statistics are showing that women are making 7 percent less when they enter the workforce,” Jen- kins said. “When we’re look- ing at years of employment and we’re looking at the folks who have been here between zero and three years and we look at the gap, we’re not necessarily saying that is representative of the same statistic because folks could join the city and have 20 years of experience prior to coming here.”

But there are still gaps when considering employees’ years of service. Male technicians with more than 30 years’ experience with the city earn on average 20 percent more than female technicians, and there are double-digit disparities in some sections across each three-year time period.

But there are areas where women earn more on average than men who have served a similar period at City Hall. Women in administrative sup- port for seven to 10 years earn an average of 22 percent more than similarly tenured men in the field, marking the biggest disparity, regardless of gender.

“We really try to focus on overall equity and making sure that we’re paying employees fairly,” Jenkins said. “In doing so, we look at everything, as far as people’s experience, what they’re bringing to their positions when we hire them in, so we’re bringing them in at the correct salaries from the start. Then with our step systems that are in place, it really ensures that everybody’s moving up at a similar pace throughout their career at the city.”

Nationally, there continues to be a significant gap between the pay of men and women. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work, but more than 50 years later, the 21 percent gap persists. President Barack Obama looked to make an impact on the federal level by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 to extend the time period plaintiffs can bring pay discrimination claims.

In 2014, Obama issued an executive order to prevent work- place discrimination and empower workers to take control of negotiations over their pay. He also signed a presidential memorandum directing U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to require federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation by race and gender.

As for city government, Jenkins said further study will indicate where the gender equity gap can be tightened or removed altogether, but that it is too early to determine, given that this is the first report of its kind. It may be revisited each quarter, she said.

“We’re really not seeing any particular trend that’s calling out to us today that says why the gap is there or why the gap is smaller [than in the national data],” she said. “All we can say at this point is that this is where we are today and that we’re going to continue to study it so that we can see if we can pick up on any trends moving forward.”

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