L.A. Controller Reports Women Underpaid and Underrepresented in City Workforce

LOS ANGELES — L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a report today on gender equity in the City’s workforce, “Closing the Gap: Women’s Pay and Representation at the City of L.A.” He found that Los Angeles has fallen short of its goals to recruit and hire more women, and to promote women into well-paying jobs. Despite attempts to change the status quo over the past five years, women remain both underrepresented and underpaid compared to their male co-workers.

“The City employs almost 50,000 public servants, but the striking gender gap in our workforce does not reflect the communities we serve or the values we promote,” said Controller Galperin. “Not enough women work at the City and those that do aren’t getting the promotional opportunities they should. The City needs to overhaul the way women are recruited, hired, promoted and paid. Only by acting more aggressively to address the vast disparities that exist today will Los Angeles start to close its pay and representation gap, and provide women with better opportunities to succeed in the future.”

According to a 2018 Census Bureau study, women earn less than 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in the United States. While the gap is slightly narrower in California, the City of Los Angeles — one of the region’s largest employers — has not kept pace with the state or the nation.

Women are underpaid

  • Women working at the City earn, on average, just 76 percent of what men make.
  • In 2019, women took home just 24 percent of the gross amount the City paid its employees.
  • Women earned a meager nine percent of the $884 million in overtime paid by the City in 2019, with men getting $801.5 million, or 91 percent of all overtime.
  • Only two of the 100 highest paid City of Los Angeles employees in 2019 were women, with the remaining 98 top earners men.

Women are underrepresented

  • Women represent only 28 percent of the City of L.A.’s total workforcethe same amount as in 2015 when the Mayor’s office issued an Executive Directive to improve gender equity across City departments, and much lower than New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, L.A. County and other large public employers across the country.
  • Within some of the City’s largest departments, women’s representation is even worse: 22 percent at the Department of Water and Power, 23 percent at the Department of Public Works and 21 percent at the Department of General Services. In contrast, 65 percent of all Controller’s office employees are women.
  • Women are just three percent of sworn Fire Department employees, three percent of building inspectors at the Department of Building and Safety and 18 percent of sworn Police Department employees — limiting access to thousands of well-paying City jobs with overtime opportunities and impacting the culture of these departments.
  • Out of 18 elected officials in the City of Los Angeles, only two are women.

“The Board of Women in Homeland Security, Southern California, applauds Controller Galperin for issuing this report, highlighting the disparities in pay and representation for women in the City workforce and leadership positions,” said Rita Burke, Ph.D, MPH, President of Women in Homeland Security, Southern California. “As an organization of women in homeland security and public safety, we are committed to supporting all women and the City of Los Angeles as they work together to bridge the gender equity gap.”

Galperin recommended the City take these critical steps toward gender equity:

  • Develop a strategic plan with clear and specific goals and targets to recruit, hire, develop and retain women in departments across the City.
  • Create a working group of City officials and community and labor partners to design a clear pathway to help women participate in all job classifications and promotional opportunities, focused especially on higher paying jobs with access to overtime.
  • Require the largest City departments to submit annual reports on their efforts to attract more women to entry level jobs that traditionally have been dominated by men.

Read the full report here: lacontroller.org/genderequity or https://lacontroller.org/audits-and-reports/genderequity/

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