Woman working

Photo courtesy Pixaby

LOS ANGELES - In an effort to close the large gender pay and representation gaps in the city's workforce, the Los Angeles City Council voted today to develop a plan to better recruit, hire and retain women and nonbinary individuals across departments. 

City Controller Ron Galperin recommended the action last August in a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer and the City Council members.

Galperin noted that a 2018 Census Bureau study found that women in the U.S. earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and Los Angeles' workforce pay gap is even wider. "Women working at the city earn, on average, just 76% of what men make and took home just 24% of the gross amount the city paid its employees last year,'' Galperin said.

"Most alarmingly, my office found that women earned 9% of the $884 million in overtime paid by the city in 2019, with men earning $801.5 million, or 91% of all overtime. And only two of the 100 highest paid City of Los Angeles employees were women, with the remaining 98 top earners men.''

Council President Nury Martinez, one of three women on the L.A. City Council, said before the vote Tuesday: ``We need to do better, we need to make sure that we're hiring and training more women and we need to make sure that we're promoting more women and we need to make sure that we're providing equal pay for equal work. "It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will make these statistics even worse if we don't take action to address these gaps,'' she said. ``While we are currently having a hiring freeze, we need to implement the recommendations in this audit and start preparing to hire more women as we recover.''

On a 14-0 vote, the council instructed the city's Personnel Department, with assistance from the Human Relations Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women, to develop a plan with clear goals to improve recruiting, hiring, development and retention of nonbinary people and women, with a specific mention to include women of color and transgender women, in city departments.

The council also ordered the creation of a working group of city officials, community and labor partners to design a clear pathway to help women and nonbinary individuals participate in all job classifications and promotional opportunities, with a focus on higher paying jobs with overtime access.

The largest city departments, which were identified by Galperin, will have to submit annual reports on their efforts to attract, recruit, hire and retain more women and nonbinary individuals to all levels of city government, including entry-level positions that are normally dominated by men.

The council also passed a resolution to support the creation of a task force to develop a "Marshall Plan for Moms'' to urge Congress and President Joe Biden to pass legislation to support women, including compensation for mothers for their unpaid labor, paid family, pay equity and affordable childcare benefits. "Women have been undervalued in the roles that they provide in so many important measures, whether it's the work that comes with motherhood and running a household to all of the gains that we have achieved, all of the glass ceilings that we have broken,'' Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said. "Women have time and time again had to fight for any level of equal footing in comparison to our male counterparts.'' Councilwoman Nithya Raman agreed.

"I think one of the things that has become clear during the pandemic is how much inequity the pandemic has made visible, and one of those inequities is definitely care giving and how much of that care giving falls on women and families,'' she said. "I hope that with the three of us (councilwomen) here, we will not let the city forget the burden that women bear from caregiving disproportionately.''

Mayor Eric Garcetti responded to Galperin's August letter and report by saying gender equity ``is a long and winding road littered with systemic and historical obstacles. Yet it's a path we have to travel to make Los Angeles a city where women and girls never have to question whether they deserve a seat at the table -- because they will be seated squarely at the head of it.'' "I wholeheartedly agree that the wage gap women experience is unacceptable both here in the city of Los Angeles and everywhere across the world,'' he said then. ``I have been committed to righting this wrong for the entirety of my career and recognize the deep hardship this places not only on women but on families and our society.''