Santa Clara supes take steps toward pay equity

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Tuesday a plan for city staff to prepare a gender and ethnicity pay equity ordinance.

The ordinance proposed by supervisors Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez would apply to the county’s more than 17,000 employees in addition to its contractors.

County staff will look at its current hiring policies and practices to look for discrimination in pay on the basis of gender and ethnicity to form an ordinance that would provide equal compensation for the same amount of work.

A woman earns 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center.

In Silicon Valley, men make 52 to 61 percent more than women even though both have either a bachelor’s, master’s or professional degree, according a study by Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

Numerous studies have shown that women lose up to a $1 million in their retirement due to pay inequity, Chavez said.

Studies have also shown that women of color earn 44 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, she said.

Guadalupe Rodriguez of the county’s Commission on the Status of Women said her group completed a study this year on gender pay inequity and they’re interested in looking into the issue further.

Unequal compensation affects women in their decisions on health, economics and other areas of their lives, Rodriguez said.

Cortese said he has heard “loud and clear” about the importance of pay equity from his oldest daughter, who is an attorney in San Francisco.

San Jose City Councilmembers Dan Rocha and Magdalena Carrasco are heading an effort to implement a similar ordinance that was discussed in the city’s Rules and Open Government Committee last week.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, representatives from the county’s Commission on the Status of Women as well as the American Association of University Women’s San Jose branch have all voiced their support for the proposed ordinance.