Women and minorities still face big pay gap at Sacramento City Hall

Women and ethnic minorities working for the city of Sacramento make far less on average than their white and male counterparts, a new audit shows.

White employees make an average of $19,000 more a year than minority workers, according to the report from City Auditor Jorge Oseguera. A gender pay gap also exists: male employees make an average of $20,000 a year more than women, both among management employees and rank-and-file staff.

“It’s very clear that we have to do better and do so with a sense of urgency,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “On the one hand, I understand and agree that progress in many ways will be measured over the longer term and it will take time to see a significant uptick in these numbers, but that doesn’t take away from the need to have a real sense of urgency and to look at every major hiring opportunity as just that: an opportunity to improve these numbers.”

Steinberg said the city must make progress on hiring more women for highly paid positions.

City Manager Howard Chan said new state legislation prohibiting employers from asking what applicants earned at their last jobs will help close the salary divide, given that gender and racial pay gaps have existed for years. He also said it is “a long-term commitment” to solve the issues in the audit.

“Every single recruitment we do now includes outreach to our partners in the ethnic chambers (representing various minority groups),” Chan said. He said he would “never hire someone who is not qualified,” but that extensive outreach will greatly expand the candidate pool for jobs.

“As one of the most integrated cities in the nation, our city workforce must reflect our community,” said Councilman Eric Guerra. “Sacramento is not there yet.”

Guerra added he was particularly concerned that women of color are missing out on city opportunities. Just 16 percent of city employees are female minorities, according to the audit.

An audit in July 2016 focused on the ethnic makeup of the Sacramento city workforce and found it did not reflect the population of one of the nation’s most diverse cities. The latest report dug deeper into salary data, but also showed that the city workforce still does not reflect its population.

The disparity is particularly striking for the Latino population. Latinos comprise 28 percent of the city’s population, but just 17 percent of the city workforce and 9 percent of city management ranks. Guerra was the first Latino elected to the City Council since former Mayor Joe Serna Jr. died in 1999.

While 34 percent of city residents are white, that group makes up 54 percent of city workers and 59 percent of those in management positions.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis