Closing the gender pay gap and paid parental leave policies are two hot-button topics that are often talked about by city and state legislators, but not always made into law—until now. San Francisco is breaking away from the proverbial pack and leading the charge towards making the workplace equitable for everyone.
In the United States, workers are only entitled to six weeks of unpaid parental leave. To add insult to injury, it’s not always a given that employees returning to the workforce will have their job, and even if they do, they stand to potentially suffer repercussions by their bosses and colleagues. Thankfully, San Francisco is changing all of that. According to the Apolitical story, “San Francisco Has the Only Women’s Department in the U.S.—and It Shows,” the City By the Bay has an ace in its pocket—the Department on the Status of Women (DOSW), which works to ensure that female workers (and in particular, working mothers), are treated fairly in the workplace.
Case in point: in 2016, DOSW passed legislation that grants both new moms and dads the right to six weeks of fully paid parental leave. This includes single sex, foster, and adoptive parents as well. Employees working in companies with 20 or more workers are eligible for coverage.
Another big win for the DOSW (and working mothers in San Francisco) is the lactation bill. It requires companies to offer lactation breaks, as well as a private location for working moms who are nursing to pump in peace. Plus, employers have to provide their policies so that workers can put in a request for a quiet place to pump.
And in keeping pace with countries such as Germany, Australia, and the UK, San Fran workers also have the legal right to request flexible work options. Asking for workplace flexibility can now be done without fear of retaliation from employers, and employee requests must be considered.
But San Francisco’s efforts to provide a fair work environment aren’t just restricted to paid parental leave. The DOSW is also heavily involved in closing the gender pay gap for San Francisco workers. To combat the statistic that working women only earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, the DOSW offers salary negotiation workshops for women. Another effort is to prohibit employers from inquiring about previous salaries. If women often earn less than men, creating new salaries based on previous ones only encourages a continuation of the gender pay gap.
What has the been the impact of these new policies and initiatives? Well, San Francisco ranks as the second best city for working women, according to the Social Science Research Council’s American Human Development Index. And the Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index lists San Francisco as the second best city in the world for female entrepreneurs. Hopefully, other cities will take notice of San Francisco’s success and implement similar initiatives that will make the gender pay gap and lack of paid parental leave problems of the past.
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