L.A. Controller Urges City to Eliminate Pay Inequity for Employees of Color

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a report today on racial diversity and pay inequity in the City’s workforce. In “Diversity With Equity: Achieving Fairness at the City of Los Angeles,” he found that the City needed to increase diversity in some of its largest departments and decrease pay inequity for workers of color. Caucasian (white) men were paid more than men of color and white women, and women of color were paid less than everyone else, with Black women faring worst overall. Accompanying the online report is an interactive dashboard showing the makeup of the City’s workforce by ethnicity, gender, years of service and pay rate.

“Los Angeles is a wonderful and diverse city, but it isn’t an equitable one,” said Controller Galperin. “Structural barriers exist for women, people of color and others in too many neighborhoods, trends that are reflected in our own local government. The City needs to do everything in its power to be an example of what fairness and equity should look like. People of color, especially women of color, deserve access to greater opportunities and equitable pay for the critical work they do.”

Diverse City, diverse workforce

  • The City’s workforce as a whole is more diverse than ever and currently reflects the ethnic composition of L.A. Nearly 73 percent of City workers are people of color, and the proportion of Asian and Black employees exceeds that of the City’s population.
  • 81% of women City workers are people of color.
  • Los Angeles Fire Dept. and Building and Safety are among the least diverse City departments, with 46% and 44% white employees, respectively, the vast majority of whom are men.
  • L.A. Dept. of Transportation and the Los Angeles World Airports were among the most diverse, with 31% Black employees each.

Galperin pointed out that diversity alone cannot build equity, noting significant disparities in pay and overtime among different ethnic groups at the City.

People of color are underpaid

  • White men came out on top of every compensation category while women of color were at the bottom.
  • All of the City’s top 100 earners were men — 56 white, 21 Hispanic (Latino), 15 Black and eight Asian.
  • In Fiscal Year 2020, white City workers earned $53 per hour on average, and Black and Latino employees earned $44 per hour.
  • Black women earned 25% less than the average gross salary for City workers, while white men earned 21% more than the average — a 46% gap.
  • The City paid $876 million in overtime over the last fiscal year, with 70% to Caucasian and Latino men, mostly sworn employees.

Galperin recommended the City take these steps to eliminate pay inequity:

  • Support the Racial Equity Task Force’s efforts to increase diversity and address the pay gap for employees of color.
  • Use the data in his report to inform Council about the impact of racial inequity in hiring and promotion, and to formulate concrete recommendations on how to fix it.
  • Promote transparency by posting demographic information for full-time employees on the City’s website, including average pay by race and gender.

“Diversity with Equity” follows Galperin’s summer 2020 report on the sizable pay gap faced by women City workers. That report spurred action by the City Council, which is currently working with the Controller’s office to address these concerns.

Read the full “Diversity with Equity” report and explore the dashboard here: lacontroller.org/diversitywithequity.

Follow L.A. Controller Ron Galperin at @LAController on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.