Sacramento leaders consider resolution on equal pay and advancement for women

Forget the pink hats. When it comes to women, Sacramento is focusing on greenbacks.

Three days after hundreds of thousands marched for women’s rights in home-knitted cat caps across the world, including 20,000 in Sacramento, the City Council on Tuesday will likely pass a resolution to broadly encourage city hiring and employment policies that promote equal pay and advancement opportunities for female city employees.

“We really want the people who serve the city to reflect the people who live in the city,” Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said. “If you don’t have women involved in decision-making, you are missing the mindset of 50 percent of the population ... and quite frankly, it’s not an accurate depiction of our city if it doesn’t include the female standpoint.”

Mayor Darrell Steinberg added that Saturday’s demonstrations made the topic timely, and that “overflow” crowds at the state Capitol showed the importance of the issue to local women.

“We need to ensure that there is no rollback of so many of the hard-earned gains,” he said.

The city has fewer women than men in top salary brackets, according to a July 2016 city audit. Women make up about half of the city population overall.

About 90 percent of the 300 highest-paid city employees in 2015 were men, according to a Sacramento Bee review of city payroll data. The city workforce is predominantly male; about 70 percent of city workers who earned more than $20,000 in 2015 are men.

The Bee’s analysis matched city worker names with a statewide database of names broken down by frequency and gender.

Of the 157 management employees making more than $120,000 annually, 38 were women – about 24 percent, according to the city audit. In the police and fire departments, gender disparity by top earners was more pronounced. At the Fire Department, 19 of the 385 sworn personnel who make more than $90,000 a year were women.

Of the 22 city employees making more than $180,000 a year, the top bracket in the audit, five were women and 17 were men. For city employees making between $150,000 and $180,000, 44 were men and eight were women.

Excluding police and fire, about 70 percent of city workers earning more than $100,000 last year were men.

Ashby said the intent of the Tuesday resolution, which she helped to write, is to ensure not only that women are paid on par with men, but that they have the same chance of advancing to top jobs. She said the city needs to do a better job providing employees with professional development and family-friendly policies to “make the playing field a little more equal.”

She said that while women in Sacramento often make the leap to the first levels of management, they often stall out before making it to the top.

A gender “report card” she created in September found that 52 percent of the city’s 608 managers are men while 47.5 percent are women. Gender for 0.5 percent of city workers was unidentified in the city’s data.

“The farther up the employment ladder you go in the city of Sacramento, the more the number dwindles off for women. And by the time you get to the council, there is just one: me,” she said. “On any given day, if I am sick and don’t come to council, little girls don’t ... see themselves reflected in those positions.”

The city has only one woman holding a charter office: City Clerk Shirley Concolino.

Steinberg said that more women are needed not just in the upper ranks of city management, but on city boards, commissions and in elected offices.

“We want and we need to appoint more women to positions of leadership,” he said. “We need to elevate more women. We need to elect more women.”

Women in California make on average 84 cents to every dollar men make, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, amounting to an average gap of $8,053 per woman annually. The pay gap is larger for minority women and can’t be explained by educational levels.

No study has been done on whether women and men working for the city earn the same amount doing “substantially similar” work, the pay standard created by a state law last year. But that kind of analysis may be considered, Ashby said.

The resolution the council is expected to pass would create an annual gender parity report.

The council on Tuesday will also receive an update on the hiring process for a diversity and equity manager, a new position created after the diversity audit was released. The city is accepting applications for that job through Feb. 10. It pays between $104,321 and $137,416.

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa