Bay Area Council Blog: Gender Equity Archive


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.




Gender equity best practices of Bay Area Council member companies and information about the “business case” for growing gender equity in the workplace were features of testimony given by Bay Area Council Policy Associate Brianne Riley at a special oversight hearing of the California State Senate Committee on Labor Industrial Relations held in San Francisco on Wednesday. The Council’s testimony allowed for an opportunity to mention the Council’s sponsorship of SB 670, which would reestablish the Employer Child Care Tax Credit, as well as its support for the Fair Pay Act signed into law by Governor Brown on Tuesday. To engage in the Council’s gender equity work, contact Policy Associate Brianne Riley.

Gender Equity Photo - Cropped


As equal pay, paid parental leave, and other traditional topics related to gender equity in the office dominate the headlines, the preferences, outlook and impact of millennials are also becoming part of the conversation surrounding the changing nature of the workplace. A recent report by Bay Area Council member PwC titled “The female millennial: A new era of talent” goes to the heart of these issues. Its key findings, which were presented by PwC International Global Diversity and Inclusion Program Officer Dale Meikle at an event hosted by the Bay Area Council Gender Equity Committee last week, include that 85 percent of female millennials said an employer’s policy on diversity, equality and workforce inclusion was important when deciding whether or not to work for an employer and a full 97 percent of both male and female millennials said work-life balance and flexibility is important to them. Ms. Meikle’s presentation was followed by a robust conversation on the report and its practical implications, which many in the audience sharing their experiences and opinions.

The Gender Equity Committee, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Peg McAllister (Lee Hecht Harrison), Stuart Newton (Deloitte) and Christopher Ruhl (PwC), plans to continue this conversation at its next meeting, which will be scheduled shortly.

In the meantime, the committee continues to seek funders for a report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute on gender equity “best practices.” Several organizations have already committed funds to this project, including the San Francisco 49ers, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Wells Fargo & Company, Suffolk Construction, and Deloitte. For more information, please contact Policy Associate Brianne Riley.