Five months after a study showed gender and ethnic pay disparities among city of San Diego workers, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday supporting policies to shrink those disparities.
The study, the first comprehensive pay equity analysis in city history, found that women earn 17.6 percent less than men and people of color earn 20.8 percent less than Whites.
The resolution approved Tuesday calls on city officials to adopt policies that use gender-neutral language in job vacancy postings. It also calls for standardizing overtime pay, eliminating the “parenthood penalty” and providing diversity outreach and training programs for high-paying positions.
The resolution also calls on the city to collect more robust employee data in future studies of inequity, create open and transparent compensation policies, and help mothers and parents of color balance work with parenthood.
“As this council looks to act through an equity lens on a variety of issues, there is no better place to start than with our own human capital,” said Councilmember Joe LaCava, who spearheaded the effort.
“Our employees represent the city, our goals and our values. We must provide them benefits to include equal access and opportunity, and I look forward to seeing that come to fruition.”
Supporters called the resolution approved Tuesday a good first step. But former Assemblymember Lori Saldana questioned whether the resolution’s lack of an “enforcement mechanism” might render it ineffective.
The study said the gaps in pay are primarily caused by factors other than intentional bias — such as differences in overtime hours worked, the impact of parenthood on pay, and the fact that men and Whites were more likely to pursue higher-paying jobs.
For example, White men dominate the two fields with the city’s highest paying jobs and most overtime hours — police and firefighting. Meanwhile, women and minorities are overrepresented in lower-paying administrative and clerical jobs.
Equity has emerged as a higher-priority issue for San Diego during the last year. In the wake of racial protests in spring 2020 over police violence against minorities, the city created an Office of Race and Equity.
San Diego also has launched efforts to boost environmental equity in low-income neighborhoods, to get dirt roads paved in poor areas and help minorities find affordable housing more easily.