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San Diego to study wage equity among city workers

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the city’s intent Tuesday to study wage equity and diversity among its workforce.

Interim City Auditor Kyle Elser first proposed the study in a performance audit of the city’s wage equity earlier this month. Elser’s office found the city’s available pay data lacking, and also recommended that the city should review pay gaps among its workers at least every three years.

“It’s not right to pay women and minorities less for the same work,” Faulconer said. “This study is an opportunity to examine the root causes of pay gaps and make institutional changes that will level the playing field so all employees are treated equally and receive fair compensation for the work they do.”

The audit found that women working full-time for the city earned roughly 83 percent of what the city’s full-time male employees received in 2017, the most recent year with available data. Black women suffered the largest pay disparity among city employees, earning $0.61 to every dollar that a male white full-time employee earned.

However, the report suggested the disparities may be due to employees working different jobs with differing levels of seniority rather than receiving less money for equivalent work. Some wage disparities can also be explained by differences in the amount of overtime an employee worked.

The city has not historically conducted regular studies of wage and hiring disparities, a trend that the city’s chief operating officer pledged to change. Last month, the city proposed creating a committee to focus on the city’s disparities for women in education, wages, participation on local boards and commissions and support for working parents.

The Committee to Advance Women and Girls would replace the defunct Commission on the Status of Women. Once it is further fleshed out, Faulconer plans to ask each of the City Council’s nine members for nominations to the committee.

“I am committed to providing equitable pay and access to opportunities for all City employees,” COO Kris Michell said. “We will conduct regular pay equity studies to hold ourselves accountable for strengthening protections against wage discrimination and to ensure women and minorities at all levels are supported.”

The council’s Audit Committee is expected to discuss the performance audit at its Thursday morning meeting.

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