Murray announces plan to address pay equity in City workforce

Mayor Ed Murray today signed an executive order establishing an action plan to close the gender wage gap within the City of Seattle workforce.

“The City of Seattle already outperforms the region and the rest of the nation when it comes to gender equity in the workplace, but better is not good enough,” Murray said. “We must do more to ensure that women, particularly women of color, are provided more and better opportunities to access higher paying jobs.”

Last year, Mayor Murray and Councilmember Jean Godden introduced a joint resolution affirming the City’s commitment to gender equity. As part of that resolution, the Mayor and Council committed to providing a deeper analysis of City-wide gender pay data, including an analysis of other factors such as race, age, sexual orientation, and other demographic information.

DCI Consulting Group, a Washington D.C. consulting firm specializing in human resource management, was commissioned to provide this follow-up analysis in a Workforce Pay Equity and Utilization study released today. The study found that the City of Seattle shows that the average annualized salary for women in Seattle city government is 89.8% of the average male salary, or about 90 cents to the dollar. That compares to 77% nationally and 74% regionally.

The study found there were no indications of systemic gender or race/ethnicity discrimination by the City in its compensation, hiring or promotion practices. The data shows, however, that more men are employed in higher-wage positions in the City’s three largest departments which comprise 43% of all City employees: the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle City Light. After removing these departments from the Citywide analysis, the City found that the unadjusted gender pay gap narrows to 98.2%.

The study also finds that 22 percent of women in the City of Seattle are employed part-time versus 12 percent of men. And in two job classifications – Strategic Advisor 1 and IT Professional C – there was an unexplained pay gap between Caucasians and people of color.

“Now is the time to make salary transparency the rule here in Seattle, to end promotion obstacles for women and minority employees and to bolster and improve recruitment, mentoring and retention policies,” said Councilmember Godden, Chair of the Council’s committee on Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity. “While I am proud of the work Seattle has done, I want to take this a step farther by looking at discretionary job placement – the ground zero of wage gap inequality – and continue to adopt policies that help us reach our pay equity goals. I will be working hard, alongside the Mayor and city department heads to make sure all of these become a reality.”

The mayor will sign an executive order that outlines the following Action Plan steps:

  • An interdepartmental team (IDT) will be formed and will be comprised of key members from the Mayor’s office, City Budget Office, the Office of Civil Rights, the Seattle Department of Human Resources, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle Public Utilities to review the study findings and determine root causes and potential solutions to the gender pay gap. The IDT will create and propose enhanced best practices around recruitment and retention of women and people of color for Citywide implementation.
  • The IDT will assess why Strategic Advisor 1 and IT Professional C classifications show an unexplained pay gap. The IDT will provide recommendations to address their findings.
  • The IDT will assess how employees are assigned to full- and part-time jobs to understand the disparity between genders. The assessment will determine whether positions occupied by women are more likely to be budgeted as part-time or if women request part-time work more often than men.
  • The Citywide Human Resources Leadership Group will work with departments to consolidate and align best HR policies, processes, and practices Citywide. This work will specifically look at ways to increase opportunities for women and people of color and will include developing a consistent Citywide exit interview and employee engagement process to determine why, in aggregate, employees stay or leave City employment.
  • To support these efforts and increase transparency, the Human Resources department will determine the most appropriate method to publish City salaries.
  • The Office of Civil Rights and the Human Resources Department will continue to develop a comprehensive Gender Justice Project, focusing on policy, programs, training, and services for women of color and girls of color, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming people. This work will include developing a web portal to serve as a gateway to access Citywide services.