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Committee accepts critical city hiring audit

Friday, August 20, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Members of the City Council Audit & Finance Committee delved into details of the city recruiting and hiring audit at yesterday’s meeting, questioning both the audit staff and Human Resources Director Joya Hayes. As noted in Wednesday’s Austin Monitor, only 39 percent of the city’s Municipal Civil Service workforce are women, as compared to 50 percent of the Austin-Round Rock area population.

Council Member Leslie Pool seemed unwilling to accept some of the conclusions of the audit and abstained on the committee’s perfunctory vote to accept it. In particular, she complained about a comparison between the percentage of city employees who are women and the number of state employees who are women. She argued that many of the women employed by the state are teachers. However, Katie Houston, who directed work on the audit, said her team did not consider city police and firefighters – most of whom are men – in arriving at the 39 percent number.

Generally, the audit refers to the Austin area’s population, with just one mention of state and county employment. Hayes said more recent information might show that women had made some gains within the city’s workforce. But Houston told the Austin Monitor that the differences over the past five years in gender within the city workforce are “very marginal. In 2015 the percentage was about 38 percent and in 2020 it’s 39 percent,” she said.

Mayor Steve Adler said he would be very interested to hear from the city’s Equity Office on its assessment. Council Member Alison Alter, who chairs the committee, said the Women’s Commission had been asking about how to add a gender lens to the city’s equity assessments. She said she would like the city manager’s office to ask how the Equity Office was measuring equity in terms of gender. In general she said that office had concentrated on racial equity as opposed to gender equity. Finally, she noted that this audit is one of a series.

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