Allegheny County equity study finds white, male employees have edge

Allegheny County officials on Tuesday released an audit commissioned three years ago to determine if female and minority county employees receive equitable treatment compared to their white, male counterparts.
The 63-page report by private consultant Evergreen Solutions LLC says white men and women hold a disproportionately high number of management and business positions in the county, but the authors found no “systematic discrimination” in the county’s hiring practices.
“The most pronounced representation difference is the over-representation of females and minorities in lower paying jobs,” the report said. “This results in females and minorities overall making less than white men on average.”
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he will rely on newly hired County Manager Willy McKain to make changes based on the report.
Reasons for the disparities include labor contract requirements, outdated or poorly defined job descriptions and promotion procedures. It recommends updating the county’s procedures for determining job placement and compensation, creating a “formal diversity recruitment plan” and providing leadership training so rank-and-file workers can seek promotions. There are 20 recommendations in all.
“The information in this report leads the way for critical improvements to be made,” said Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women & Girls Foundation, which lobbied county officials to do the study.
The report is based on surveys and employee data collected in 2010. It examined 5,478 county employees, or about 75 percent of the county’s workforce. It did not include employees working for the controller, treasurer, district attorney and sheriff — the county’s four row officers.
In a survey of 823 county employees, 19 percent replied “yes” and 81 percent replied “no” to the survey question: “Have you personally experienced discrimination by the county that directly impacted your compensation?”
Other findings in the report include: Female employee median wages are about 80 percent of the male median wages; blacks receive wages that are about 87 percent of the median wage paid to white employees; and fewer blacks apply for county jobs than expected, based on U.S. Census data.
Jeremy Boren
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
July 31, 2012