Bay Area Council Blog: Gender Equity Archive

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Time is running out to secure your seat at the Bay Area Council’s 2017 Outlook Conference: The Pacific Summit presented by Kaiser Permanente on Tuesday, May 23. We have assembled an incredible dais of leaders who will provide invaluable insights on the dramatic political and economic changes that are dominating the regional, state and national landscapes. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and CNN host and global thinker Dr. Fareed Zakaria will talk about the populist forces that propelled Donald Trump into the White House and what it means for the Bay Area and California. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will share his thoughts on how large metropolitan regions can address the massive challenges of housing and transportation. And San Francisco Chronicle Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper will lead a fascinating discussion on the great flight of millennials from our region and the trouble it bodes for our economy. In addition to hearing from these leaders, attendees will also have an opportunity to talk directly with them in small group discussions that are new to the conference this year. The conference will be held at The Presidio, affording attendees a beautiful, retreat-like setting to hear top thinking and interact with a high-level audience.

Learn about sponsorship opportunities and register today at



As the world watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast presented by McKinsey & Company and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco convened leading economists and top experts to give their economic forecast for the Bay Area, California, and the nation.

The prognosis was clear. As we usher in the new administration, we are on stable footing. Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and a leading expert on the California economy, presented on a set of economic indicators, showing that much of the national political rhetoric around stagnant wages, the impact of trade, and unemployment is not borne out in the economic data. Labor markets are tight and becoming tighter across most of the United States. This is particularly true in California where the housing supply problem is one of the biggest challenges to continued growth. He also assessed that, while GDP is growing relatively slowly, it is growing and economic fundamentals, such as consumer spending, remain strong. Among the challenges cited for slow growth were self-inflcted wounds and political gridlock, a weak global economy, and the shift to an information economy among others.  And, while there is little chance for a recession (for now), uncertainty surrounding the new administration’s policy agenda clouds the view forward. There are broad ramifications for potential change in policy in healthcare, immigration, social insurance, trade, manufacturing, and more.

San Francisco Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams offered an exclusive perspective on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market and how the Fed is likely to gradually increase its interest rate targets over time so that the economy grows without risking a bubble. Williams emphasized how the central bank is not influenced by partisan politics, staying politically independent, data-driven and focused on its narrow goals to promote low inflation, full employment and financial stability.

Bay Area Council Economic Institute Chair and McKinsey & Company Western Region Managing Partner Kausik Rajgopal and Aspen Institute Fellow Natalie Foster explored the “Future of the Worker” in the new age of automation and the growing gig economy. In the Bay Area, the independent workforce is 30 percent of the working age population with most digital independents working in order to earn when traditional jobs falter, to provide extra income for high cost of living or to buffer uneven income streams. One of the key points discussed was how automation is focused on specific activities rather than entire jobs, and can spur more job growth.


Mentorships Key to Increasing Women in Senior Leadership Roles

The Gender Equity Committee met this week to participate in an interactive discussion with Shavon Lindley, CEO of Women Evolution, which creates innovative mentorship and training programs designed to strengthen the growth potential of female employees in companies.  While women make up more than half of entry level positions in Fortune 500 companies, that number quickly drops to 39 percent at mid-level, 26 percent at senior level, and only 5 percent at the CEO level.  Peer mentorship programs can greatly improve employee retention rates and convert high potential women into senior roles at the company.

The Bay Area Council’s Best Practices Resource Guide, released earlier this year, identified mentorship programs as an important strategy for promoting gender equity within companies. The Gender Equity Committee — led by co-chairs Peg McAllister (Lee Hecht Harrison), Christopher Ruhl (PwC LLP), and Stuart Newton (Deloitte) — will be hosting more workshops to help companies implement the other strategies identified in the Guide, including equalizing pay, building career development opportunities, addressing unconscious bias, and more.  Special thanks to PwC for hosting this meeting.  To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.

The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).

Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.

Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month.  Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.


State Sen. Jackson Talks Fair Pay with Council’s Gender Equity Committee

The Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee on Thursday (Sept. 15) welcomed state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) for an invigorating discussion hosted by member company Lyft about promoting workplace cultures of equality. Sen. Jackson authored the California Fair Pay Act, landmark legislation that established the strongest equal pay law in the country and went into effect in January. More than a half century after John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act to abolish wage discrimination based on gender, women in the United States still earn on average only .79 cents for every dollar men earn. Jackson’s legislation strengthens federal regulations and marks a great step forward in closing that wage gap.

After fighting for pay equity for 35 years, Sen. Jackson attributed the success of this bill — which received unanimous approval in the Senate and nearly unanimous approval in the Assembly — to the convincing economic argument.  Unequal pay costs California women $39 billion annually, which is money that could be flowing to businesses and the overall state economy. Following a welcome by Lyft Public Policy Manager Rena Davis, Sen. Jackson discussed other strategies that will produce more equitable workplaces, including promoting more women to board leadership positions and adopting family friendly policies such as paid parental leave and on-site child care.

Many of these workplace practices are highlighted in the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s recent Best Practices Resource Guide. The Gender Equity Committee is Co-Chaired by Peg McAllister of Lee Hecht Harrison, Christopher Ruhl of PwC and Stuart Newton of Deloitte. To engage on the Council’s gender equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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First-of-its-Kind Workplace Gender Equity Guide Unveiled

Advancing gender equity in the workplace, especially at the C-suite and Board level, continues to be a major challenge for employers nationwide. The good news is that addressing this challenge would have a tremendous economic payoff as fully implementing gender equity best practices would increase US GDP by 10 percent by 2025 according to McKinsey & Co. To address the systemic underrepresentation of women in the workplace, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in partnership with Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s The Representation Project today unveiled a first-of-its-kind online strategy guide for businesses - Building Gender Equity in the Workplace – assessing the economics of gender equity and providing actionable practices for businesses to meet the challenge head on.

“We’ve made progress, but it has been too slow,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute “Gender equality in the workplace is not just a moral and social imperative; it’s a fiscal necessity to a stronger, more competitive economy.”

At today’s launch event in San Francisco, Bay Area Council Gender Equity Committee Co-Chair Peg McAllister of Lee Hecht Harrison welcomed a packed house. Following a presentation of findings by Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg, The Representation Project Founder and CEO Jennifer Siebel Newsom delivered remarks on some of the underlying issues blocking women from advancing as leaders, including unconscious bias and socialization of gender stereotypes.

The cutting-edge practices and strategies included in the guide enable businesses to take a holistic approach in evaluating their hiring practices, evaluation policies, compensation transparency, career development programming, HR policies, leadership diversity and workplace culture needed to grow the talent pool and advance women professionally. Special thanks to project lead partner The Representation Project and regional sponsors San Francisco 49ers, Intel, San Francisco International Airport, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lee Hecht Harrison, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, and Suffolk Construction.

Read Building Gender Equity in the Workplace>>

To get involved in the Council’s Gender Equity policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

Valerie Jarrett

Obama Senior Advisor Jarrett Meets with Council Executives

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, met with Bay Area Council members this week (June 20) and briefed them on some of the issues on which the President is focused during the remainder of his term. Jarrett talked about how improving diversity and gender equity in the workforce and the executive suite, particularly as it relates to pay, can have broad benefits for the economy. “This isn’t just a nice-to-do-for-women issue anymore.”

She praised the work the Council is doing in this area under the leadership of our Gender Equity Committee Co-Chairs Peg McAllister of Lee Hecht Harrison, Stuart Newton of Deloitte and Chistopher Ruhl of PwC, including our advocacy in helping pass San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener’s historic paid parental leave legislation. On July 29 the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in partnership with Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s The Representation Project will unveil a new study examining the economics of promoting gender equity and highlight innovative strategies that Bay Area companies are adopting.

Jarrett also highlighted the President’s work on criminal justice reform and expanding opportunities for boys and men of color (BMoC). The Council is working with several regional partners, including LeadersUp, PolicyLink, and Urban Strategies Council, to launch the Bay Area BMoC Employment Project and on Thursday July 21 is helping organize The Invest in Youth: Pathways to Success Boys and Men of Color Career Summit to provide boys and men of color between the ages of 18 to 29 with opportunities to interview with employers, connect to community resources, and participate in career preparation and leadership development training.

The meeting ended with a lively discussion on gun control. To engage in the Council’s federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder at

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Member Spotlight: KPMG

Debbie Messemer, KPMG’s Market Managing Partner for the Bay Area and member of the Bay Area Council’s Executive Committee, has been named “2016 Financial Woman of the Year” by Financial Women of San Francisco.  Celebrating its 60th anniversary, FWSF seeks to advance the success of women in finance and financial services and to be a source of insight and inspiration to Bay Area women executives and managers.  This award recognizes Messemer’s achievement as an industry leader and her passion for supporting young women in the industry.  The award also is a platform for high-achieving winners to share their professional experience with others, inspiring them in their ambitions and careers.

“I hope to instill excitement in women considering and currently working in the financial industry.  I also want to be a voice to help raise support and funds for the FWSF’s scholarship program so that younger women, who might not have had that opportunity otherwise, can pursue their dreams of a career in finance,” Messemer said. “That’s what legacy is all about.”

Messemer will be recognized at an award presentation at the Financial Woman of the Year Luncheon on September 21, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Register here to join us for this inspiring luncheon which directly supports the FWSF’s Scholarship Fund.


Member Spotlight: Burr Pilger & Mayer

As Bay Area Council member Burr Pilger & Mayer (BPM) enters its 30th year as one of California’s largest accounting and consulting firms, Public Accounting Report’s May 16 issue applauds the firm for taking action to ensure a reliable pipeline for success through its forward-looking Women’s Initiative Now! (WIN) program.  BPM CEO and Bay Area Council Boardmember Jim Wallace discusses the program’s goals of:

– Ensuring a culture that enhances the retention and recruitment of women employees;
– Enhancing personal development at different stages of women’s careers; and,
– Increasing awareness of women’s success.

Through a new series of workshops, they will provide additional support, one-on-one mentoring and best practices for female managers and partners seeking to adjust communication and sales tactics to get results.  Of the 41 partners at BPM, women make up 24 percent, and women hold 31 percent of leadership positions.  BPM is firmly committed to continuing to increase women partners, women in leadership roles, and convert career advocacy to business development opportunities. The firm is recognized as one of the Best Public Accounting Firms for Women by the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and American Women’s Society of CPAs and was recently ranked as the number one firm “Best Firm to Work for” in the nation, by Accounting Today.


Outlook Conference Goes Bigger Better Bolder

Hundreds of business, government and academic leaders gathered Tuesday, May 17 at the Bay Area Council’s 2016 Outlook Conference presented by Wells Fargo to hear from major CEOs and other top thinkers about some of the key challenges facing our region, our economy, employers and workers. Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf delivered the opening keynote to an audience of 600 at the Park Central Hotel in San Francisco, giving his unique insights on national and global economic trends, California’s housing crisis, and the outlook for the fast-emerging financial technology sector before sitting down for an engaging Q&A with PG&E CEO and Council Executive Committee member Tony Earley.

Rudy Giuliani, chair of Greenberg Traurig’s cybersecurity and crisis management practice, closed the conference with entertaining, informative and wide ranging remarks on his time as New York City mayor, the ubiquity of digital technology and the massive threat that cyber attacks pose to the economy, national security, consumers and business.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, CEO of The Representation Project, delved into the damaging role of gender stereotypes in limiting opportunities for women and challenged executives to examine how their workplace and leadership practices can remove obstacles to advancement. Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker talked about the digitization of everything and the challenges of an open Web.

Microsoft’s Oliver Parker led a fascinating discussion with Kaiser Permanente’s Manish Vipani and Nexenta CEO Tarkan Maner on how big data and cloud computing are transforming healthcare. Xerox Chief Technology Officer Sophie Vandebroek explored some of amazing technologies driving the clean energy and energy storage sectors. And Chauncey Lennon of JPMorgan Chase led a discussion with Tumml CEO Clara Brenner and Jewish Vocational Services Director Abby Snay on the major themes from JPMorgan Chase’s new report: Tech Jobs for All? Exploring the Promise and Pitfalls of Technology Training in the United States.

Council Chair and TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias opened the conference with a look at how the Council is addressing the key issues of housing and transportation. Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg unveiled their 9th Economic Profile: Promise and Perils of an Accelerated Economy and used it to debunk five myths about the Bay Area economy.

Videos of all the speakers will be available starting next week. To view the full agenda, visit Outlook Conference: Bigger Better Bolder.

The Council extends its deepest thanks to Wells Fargo for serving as presenting Visionary sponsor, and also to Kaiser Permanente for serving as Pioneer sponsor.