Bay Area Council Blog: Gender Equity Archive

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.


Keeping up the Fight for Equal Pay

More than 50 years after John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act to abolish wage discrimination based on gender, women in the United States still only earn on average 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Last week (April 29), Bay Area business leaders took a step forward to close the gender pay gap by attending Mind the Gap: How to Lead on Equal Pay, an event hosted by the Bay Area Council and our partners from Gap Inc. and the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women.

The event celebrated the recent California Fair Pay Act and highlighted proactive strategies that local companies are pursuing to equalize pay and promote a culture of equality.  Among the featured speakers were Bay Area Council members Google, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and PwC LLP, and we hope that they inspire more corporate leaders to take action on this important issue.  To learn more about the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.


Landmark SF Parental Paid Leave Policy Passes

San Francisco on Tuesday (April 5) became the first city in the nation to ensure that nearly all employees will have access to fully paid parental leave under legislation authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, supported by the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee and unanimously approved by the SF Board of Supervisors. California’s paid family leave program provides 55 percent wage replacement for parents on leave for a six-week period and San Francisco’s program will require employers with 20 or more workers to close the gap up to a maximum weekly amount.

The law is a key tool in advancing gender equity, which is among the Council’s top policy priorities, while helping control employee turnover costs and providing workers time to bond with their new child, which increases the probability that employees will return to work, be more productive and earn higher wages. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.


Council Endorses Landmark Paid Family Leave Law

There are numerous causes of gender inequity in the Bay Area economy, and almost none can be corrected without change, and sometimes without new, short term expense. Paid parental leave is one of those issues.  Economists have found that paid parental leave raises the probability that employees, especially women, return to work, and then work more hours and earn higher wages.  In the long term, when compared with the cost of recruitment and training, numerous studies have shown it also reduces costs for employers and benefit the economy at large.

After numerous conversations with our members, including at yesterday’s (March 24) Bay Area Council Executive Committee meeting, the Council has decided to support San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener’s groundbreaking legislation that would make the city the first in the nation to ensure that nearly all employees have access to paid parental leave to bond with a new child. California’s current paid family leave program provides tax-payer funded 55 percent wage replacement for parents on leave for a six-week period, but many workers cannot afford to take leave at only partial wage replacement. Wiener’s legislation would require San Francisco employers with 20 or more workers to make up difference (45 percent) for the up-to-six-week leave period, up to a maximum weekly benefit amount.

The U.S. is currently the only industrialized nation that does not require paid leave. The proposed ordinance was unanimously passed by the Budget and Finance Subcommittee on Wednesday, and will be heard at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 5.  To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.



The Bay Area Council is taking dead aim at solving the region’s crisis-level housing and traffic problems with a 2016 policy agenda adopted this week (Dec. 3) by the Executive Committee that also targets critical water and drought issues and the growing challenge employers are facing in attracting talent across a range of skills. Under the leadership of Council Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, the Executive Committee developed the policy agenda over the past two months with input from the Council’s 275 member companies.

“The Council and this region are extremely fortunate to have the dedicated and visionary leadership that our Executive Committee and Board are bringing to bear against these difficult challenges,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The priorities they have identified rightly reflect the major issues of our time, and we are confident that with their collective action the Council will start bending the curve to solve them.”

The Council’s 2016 Focus Policy Priorities include:

Workforce Housing. The Bay Area’s historic failure to build housing sufficient to meet employment and population growth is fueling an epic affordability crisis that could have long-term consequences for the region’s economic success. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by Lennar Urban President Kofi Bonner and TMG Partners Managing Partner Denise Pinkston, is working to significantly increase the supply of housing units and commercial space throughout the region by mitigating regulatory barriers to development of all kinds. To engage in our Workforce Housing work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Commute Improvement. Traffic has reached crisis levels, and our public transportation systems are bursting at the seams. Under the leadership of Heller Manus Architects President Jeffrey Heller and UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner, the Transportation Committee is working on a range of innovative solutions that include expanding carpool and toll lanes, leveraging new traffic management technologies, emphasizing overall transportation corridors and developing new financing tools and local revenue sources for investing in maintaining and expanding capacity. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security. Our economy relies on access to clean, reliable and affordable supplies of water. With historic drought, competing demands and a historic lack of investment in our water system, the Bay Area faces major questions about its water future. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, is uniting the region’s diverse water stakeholders around these issues, working to prioritize critical investments and educating policy makers in Sacramento and Washington on the region’s needs. Ball is also leading the Council’s effort to generate support for a regional ballot initiative in 2016 that would raise $500 million from a parcel tax to fortify the region’s defenses against extreme storms and sea-level rise. To engage in our Water Supply and Security work, contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future. The Bay Area’s fast-changing, high-value innovation economy requires highly skilled graduates for today’s in-demand jobs. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Teresa Briggs of Deloitte and Glenn Shannon of Shorenstein Properties, the Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is building stronger connections between the region’s employers and the universities and colleges that are educating the region’s future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.



Council Chair Michael Covarrubias called for a moment of silence at yesterday’s (Dec. 3) Board of Directors meeting to honor beloved Bay Area business and philanthropic titan Doug Shorenstein, who passed away Nov. 25 after a long battle with cancer. Shorenstein was Chairman and CEO of Shorenstein Properties, a real estate development company founded by his late father Walter Shorenstein. He previously served on the Council’s Board of Directors and was a 2011 inductee into the Council’s Bay Area Business Hall of Fame – Walter was a member of the 1998 Hall of Fame. After taking over the company in 1995, Shorenstein transformed it from a local developer to one of the largest and most-respected real estate development and management companies in the nation. He will be sorely missed.

Read about Doug Shorenstein’s life in the San Francisco Chronicle>>

Watch the Hall of Fame video of honoring Doug Shorenstein>>



As the deadline (Oct. 11) passed for the Governor to sign or veto bills, the Bay Area Council’s advocacy paid off in a big way as the Governor signed numerous bills that address key challenges faced by our region. With the unveiling our the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s Report on 21st Century Infrastructure earlier this year, the Council has been a leader in advocating for friendlier policies that encourage robust communications and energy networks in California. As a result of this effort, the Governor signed AB 57 to streamline broadband infrastructure development.

In the areas of technology and cybersecurity, the Governor signed SB178, which will update our electronic privacy laws, as well as AB 229 to allow state employees to use sharing economy companies for state travel. Both of these bills were supported by the Council. To expand gender equality in California the Governor signed SB 358 updating the Fair Pay Act. The Council also scored a win in the area of commute improvement as the Governor signed AB 157 into law, which will improve traffic flow by expediting the process to open the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

To engage in the Council’s government relations work, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke.