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City of Seattle

October 11, 2:05 PM click here to comment > 2

Family friendly workplaces and gender pay equity in Seattle

We are working hard to address gender justice in Seattle. Earlier today I sent the following letter to Julie Nelson and Patricia Hayden, co-chairs of our Gender Equity in Pay Task Force, to ask them to examine the possibility of a City ordinance on family friendly workplaces as they develop recommendations on the gender pay equity gap.

Dear Ms. Nelson and Ms. Hayden,

Earlier this year a report by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that Seattle had the highest gender pay gap of any metro area in the country. This gap is unacceptable, and it is a primary reason why I created the Gender Equity in Pay Task Force on which you serve as co-chairs.

Research has found that one of the contributing factors to a persistent pay equity gap is unfair workplace policies that put women at a disadvantage. A Catalyst study found that women are persistently underrepresented in senior management levels in the workplace. One of the reasons they cited was that women are often asked to take on caregiving roles at home, yet their employers do not provide the flexibility they need to manage care and a career. Women are being forced to choose between caring for a loved one and advancing their careers. It is not right to ask women to make such a choice.

A new effort is emerging to address these unfair policies by granting working parents the right to request flexible workplace arrangements. The United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia already have these policies on the books. The State of Vermont is the first government in the United States to adopt these policies, and San Francisco has recently adopted them too.

I believe it is time for Seattle to adopt a family friendly workplace ordinance to address these unfair policies and help close the gender pay equity gap. Family friendly workplace policies can help meet the needs of a wide range of workers across industries. They can improve worker productivity and satisfaction, helping the bottom line and reducing turnover. And they can help overcome persistent inequalities that women face in our economy.

I request that the Gender Equity in Pay Task Force examine a family friendly workplace ordinance for Seattle as part of your work to propose recommendations that will help us close the gender pay equity gap in the City of Seattle and more broadly throughout our city. My staff stand ready to help you in this work. Thank you for your service on this Task Force, and I look forward to receiving your recommendations in the coming months.


Mike McGinn

Our 2014 Proposed Budget also includes a new investment in our gender justice work in the form of a $1.5 million reserve to fund future recommendations made by the Gender Equity in Pay Taskforce and help equalize the City of Seattle’s gender pay deficit.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Jo S
Time October 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Oh My Gosh. I read this and started to cry.
I’ve worked for the City since 2005, and am a single mother of a – now 11 year old daughter.

In this day and age, I have always worried about what happens if i HAVE to leave for work before I had a place to take her for before and after school. I live 44 miles one way so I am able to afford childcare. This has always weighed so heavy on me, so desperately needing the flex time so as not to be in trouble for being a few minutes late if things don’t go the way the are supposed to.

Seeing this, I started to cry. I am the only one in my group of workers that has a child, and it plays difficult for me to have the same freedom they all do in our 24/7 work group.

Thank you for this. I hope it comes to fruition. At least I have something to be hopeful for.

Comment from Anna
Time October 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I was so touched by Jo. I am equally impressed by Mayor McGinn for creating this taskforce. As a working mother and partial caretaker of my own mother, I have felt the emotional and fiscal toll of navigating as a woman in our gender biased workplaces. This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed.