Fresno City Hall makes a strong pledge toward equal pay for men and women employees | Opinion

·3 min read
California Office of the Governor

It was gratifying to see Fresno join five other California cities recently in signing the Equal Pay Pledge, a formal statement that commits the governments to ensuring the same wages for male and female employees in the same jobs.

As reported by Bee staff writer Joshua Tehee, the pledge was started in 2019 by California’s First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and builds off of California’s equal pay laws.

Mayor Jerry Dyer said having a work force with gender equity and racial diversity has been a goal of his since taking office in 2021.

“I’m proud to say that women make up 60 percent of my administration, including our city manager, my chief of staff, two assistant city managers, my communications director and more,” Dyer said in a statement.

By signing the pledge, Fresno commits to undertaking annual gender pay analyses. The city will look for unconscious bias in its hiring and promotions. It further promises to follow best practices to close the pay gap and ensure fundamental equity for all employees.

Besides Fresno, the other participating cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland and Long Beach. They join the state government, as well as more than 100 companies that have also taken the pledge, including Apple, Adobe and GoFundMe.

Wage gap

Committing to the pledge is a worthy goal, but at the same time, an unfortunate one.

Even in a progressive state like California, women employees earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The national average is even worse: women make 77 cents for every $1 paid to a man.

Nationally, women of color face even lower pay. Black women earn 64 cents, while Latinas earn 54 cents and Native Americans 51 cents. Mothers get 62 cents on average.

According to Seibel Newsom, the wage gap in California results in women losing a total of $87 billion each year.

A 2022 study from GoodHire found that Fresno had one of the smallest wage gaps in the U.S. According to the study, women in Fresno earned 89% of their male counterparts. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey had that number at 81%.

But looked at in actual dollars, the wage gap among working men and women in Fresno widened over the past decade. The gap climbed from just over $9,000 in 2011 to $13,580 by 2021.

As reported by Bee data journalist Tim Sheehan, the percentage difference in average earnings between men and women also increased slightly over the decade. The women’s average salary in Fresno in 2011 was about 83% of what men earned. In 2021, that average had slipped to about 81% of what men were making.

Pay equity is an elusive goal that must continually be sought.

Pay equity

Two other major local employers, the Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified school districts, do not use previous salaries as a measurement for where to put new hires on the salary scale. Rather, wages are tied to years of service.

Nikki Henry, chief communications officer for Fresno Unified, said FUSD has less than a 2.5% gender wage gap. And women make up more than half of its executive cabinet.

It would be advisable for all public agencies in the San Joaquin Valley — from county governments to schools to irrigation and air pollution control districts — to review their wage practices for gender equity. If adjustments need to be made, the leaders should absolutely do so.

No parent would think it is right to pay a son more than a daughter for the same work. But remains the case in the working world.

May Fresno City Hall’s taking the pledge inspire other local agencies to do the same in the quest for gender pay equity.