July 16, 11:31 AM click here to comment > 6
Launching a Gender Justice Initiative
Though much progress has been made toward gender justice since women fought for the right to vote nearly 100 years ago, we have a lot of work ahead of us on the road to true gender equity. A recent report from the National Partnership for Women and Families (NWPF) ranked Seattle as having the widest gender wage gap among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. I’ve written here in the past about this report, which found that women in the Seattle area are paid 73 cents on the dollar compared to men, amounting to an average yearly gap of $16,346 between men and women who work full time.
In response to the NWPF report, I directed the City Personnel Department to conduct a review of the City’s salary structure to determine if these disparities were present among City of Seattle workers as well. Not surprisingly, our review found that the City of Seattle does indeed have gender disparities in pay. Men employed by the City of Seattle make approximate 9.5% more than women on average, and today we are announcing a Gender Justice Initiative designed to change that.
The first step is to convene a Gender Equity in Pay Task Force, led by Office for Civil Rights Director Julie Nelson and Patricia Hayden, YWCA Director of Specialized and Integrated Services, made up of community experts who will use their expertise to help us come up with creative solutions to this complex problem.
The Gender Equity in Pay Task Force will:
- Review an in-depth analysis of the City’s data to gain a better understanding of specific opportunities and challenges, including a focus on positions with discretionary pay and those departments with the largest differentials between the number of male and female employees and greatest pay differentials.
- Develop recruitment and retention strategies to increase the number of female employees at the City of Seattle, particularly in departments that currently employ significantly more men than women.
- Develop strategies to increase City contracting and purchasing with WBEs.
- Develop policy proposals that modify existing operating procedures to address implicit bias and/or institutionalized sexism, other forms of gender-based discrimination and institutionalized racism that inadvertently create gender-based inequities, both in employment and contracting.
- Develop programmatic proposals that provide tools and resources for individual women that help to address gender-based pay gaps.
Task Force timeline
Gender inequity in pay is an important element of a Gender Justice Initiative, but is of course not the only form of gender-based discrimination. Our vision of gender equity must also include other inequities, such as access to specific employment categories, education, safety, and health. In early 2014, after we have made steps to address our internal pay disparities, we will launch a broader Gender Justice Initiative, focusing on these issues citywide. Based on the findings of the Task Force, topics will be identified for inclusion in the initiative that may encompass family friendly work places, support for broad gender justice goals, sharing best practices across institutions, and outreach and engagement for inclusivity in our approach to resolving gender justice issues.
By looking at our own employment practices, we can learn a lot about how to address these issues at a broader level. We will draw on the expertise of private sector employers and advocates for gender justice through the Task Force, and collaborate with community groups and organizations to come up with creative solutions. By working together on this challenging issue we can make progress toward a more justice society for all. Stay tuned on our blog for updates on our progress and opportunities to get involved.
Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn