Much of the focus around representation in city halls focuses on elected officials – but the inequalities are even more severe on the senior staff.
An analysis by CBC News looked at the 10 best employees in each Metro Vancouver municipality in 2020 and found only about 30 percent of them were women and 10 percent were men of color.
About three percent were women of color.
These numbers have barely changed in the three years that CBC has been tracking the numbers.
“Good people are passed over again and again,” said Ginger Gosnell-Myers, the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous relations manager.
“I often hear the answer, ‘Well, the best person for the job is to get the job.’ I think people need to recognize that the best people for the job fall outside the narrow ideals of leadership we see. “
Gosnell-Myers said a lack of representation in senior officials can influence what policies are prioritized.
“These are the people who carry out the political direction set before them … cultural diversity brings a set of lived experiences that are not often supported at a leadership level,” she said.
The numbers come from the annual statement of financial information that each municipality in BC publishes, which shows the salary of all employees making more than $ 75,000.
Experience is important
For politicians who advocate for better representation and anti-racist policies in city halls, the numbers are a reminder that a lack of diversity is a similar story among both elected and unelected local officials.
“We need to set some goals around what is acceptable to us as municipalities and then track that,” said New Westminster Coun. Nadine Nakagawa.
“We need to delve deeper into the employment practice of who is applying for jobs in the city we are hiring, and how we welcome them into our city.”
Nakagawa is a co-founder of the Feminist Campaign School, a program to help train and promote “value-driven leadership with representation for community elections.”
But she says it can take time for elected officials to influence city leadership decisions.
“We do everything we can to make sure our community is well represented, that we listen to a lot of different voices and we get in touch,” she said.
“But without that diversity at the leadership level, we know it affects the way we prioritize and make decisions.”
Surrey city manager is a top earner
For the first time in recent memory, the highest paid city employee in Metro Vancouver was not Vancouver’s city manager, but Surrey’s city manager – Vincent Lalonde, who earned $ 397,051. Sadhu Johnston, who left the Vancouver role earlier this year, earned $ 354,698 in 2020.
City administrators (or chief executive officers) in Coquitlam, Delta, Langley Township and Richmond were next highest on the list, followed by Leanne McCarthy of the City of North Vancouver, the only woman to earn more than $ 300,000.
In all, seven of the 25 employees who earned more than $ 250,000 were from Vancouver, four were in Delta, and three each in Surrey, Coquitlam and Langley Township.
While senior staff in the City of Vancouver took a slight pay cut in 2020 due to the pandemic, those in other major municipalities did not. Senior wages in Surrey rose by 14 percent, which the city attributed to efficiency-related increases and a number of people becoming permanent employees.
The numbers include people in local fire departments, but not local police departments, which are not included in the legislation.