Sacramento City Clerk Shirley Concolino was up for a performance review in 2013 when Councilwoman Angelique Ashby noticed her colleague was being paid thousands less than men doing similar work for the city.
“She’s a person that across the board people have a tremendous amount of respect for, but her pay did not reflect that,” Ashby said.
Ashby pushed her then-fellow council members to bring Concolino’s salary in line with men serving in the other charter officer positions of city attorney and treasurer – which required a bump of nearly 30 percent.
On Tuesday – Equal Pay Day in the U.S. – Ashby advocated for and won approval of a City Council resolution encouraging businesses and government to examine not just women’s paychecks, but their opportunities to reach top management ranks.
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Women across the country earn about 80 cents for each dollar a man makes on average, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Women in the Sacramento region make about 89 cents to the dollar compared to men, according to the American Association of University Women.
Sacramento is “doing better than other areas but it’s still not equal, and as long as it’s not equal there is still work to be done,” Ashby said. “It feels like this is a problem that should end with this generation.”
Ashby said the city is weeks away from hiring a diversity and equity director, who will oversee efforts to provide equal pay and advancement across ethnicity and gender. Without such oversight, existing policy and culture practices – such as using prior salary to set pay for new hires and failing to provide networking opportunities for women – can keep women in lesser roles, with smaller paychecks.
She points to a diversity audit of the city’s boards and commissions released Tuesday by City Auditor Jorge Oseguera. It found that 57 percent of residents serving on city boards and commissions are male, though men make up only 49 percent of the population. On some key boards, such as the Planning and Design Commission, the disparity is higher. Seventy-seven percent of that 13-member board is male.
Ashby points out that the planning commission is often a stepping stone to elected office. When women are underrepresented there, she said, they lose access to a vital training ground.
She is the only woman on the nine-member City Council.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said that he plans to work with councilmembers to ensure appointments better reflect city demographics.
“We need more women leaders,” Steinberg said. “Women bring different experiences to life and to the world than men.”
The city audit also found that the majority of board and commission members are white – they comprise 61 percent of the 178 members who provided data for the audit, but only 32 percent of the city’s population. Hispanics were the most underrepresented ethnicity, accounting for just 10 percent of those responding, but making up 31 percent of Sacramento’s population.
The audit also showed a cluster of board and commission members reside in the central city, often from the most affluent neighborhoods such as midtown Sacramento, Land Park, East Sacramento and the Pocket.
Like gender, the preponderance of central city residents can have an impact on city policy, said Ashby, who resides in Natomas.
“Let’s say you’re talking about bicycle advocacy,” Ashby said. “If you have people from Meadowview, they have a different view of what it’s like to bike in our city.”
The auditor’s report examined the city’s 30 boards and commissions, which have a total of 256 positions. Currently, 229 are filled and 51 people declined to provide their ethnicity for the audit.
A charter officer, Concolino has overseen much of the daily operations at City Hall for more than two decades, and grew the job into a pivotal position that Steinberg describes as “the glue ... that makes the city work.”
After a series of subsequent raises, Concolino now makes $171,000.
“I have never been driven by money, but I get what money means in this scenario,” Concolino said Tuesday. “It wasn’t something I jumped up and down and screamed about, but now that it’s fixed I’m really glad, especially for everyone coming after me.”