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Philly’s exempt workforce shows progress.
Philly’s exempt workforce shows progress. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Philly City Controller releases annual diversity review: Progress, but work to be done

The new hires were, for the first time, consistent with the city’s diverse population.

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On Tuesday, Dec. 20, the Philadelphia City Controller’s office released its annual analysis that reports the diversity among the city’s exempt workforce, with today’s release focusing on the fiscal year 2021 (FY21). The diversity review examines the departmental diversity for the over 4,700 exempt employees, which also includes new hires with salaries of about $90,000. 

According to the review, for the first time in the four years that the Controller’s Office has done the report, new hires are now starting to reflect the city’s diverse demographics. 

The office breaks down the analysis of the exempt workforce by department and race/ethnicity. According to census data, it lays out the department’s representation and compares it to Philly's demographics. 

Further data was reviewed apart from City departments that are under the Mayor’s power and for independent offices, which are the Managing Director’s Office (MDO), the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT), and the Law Department.

According to the latest census data used in the report, Philly’s population is roughly 67.0% diverse, which includes Black or African-Americans at 38.6%, Hispanics at 15.9%, Asians at 7.5%, and as the data says, other at 5.0%. 

For Latinos specifically, they accounted for 12.5% of new executive hires in FY21 in departments under the mayor’s power. Considering that in 2020, these same departments did not hire any Latino employees for their executive posts, it is an improvement. 

The report also reveals that in all departments and independent offices in Philly, the racial and ethnic breakdown of said exempt workforce is not reflective of the city’s total population, but it has improved. Diverse employees made up 47.3% of the total exempt workforce in 2021, which as the report points out, is a slight increase compared to 2020’s 45.8%. 

As a result of 2021’s improvement in diverse hiring, they are for the first time reflective of the citywide demographics. Diverse groups overall accounted for 71.0% of new exempt hires in 2021 compared to 2020, when it was only 58.3%. 

However, in regards to new executive hires, that number did not increase and has remained less diverse compared to new hires overall, with the report pointing out that new executive hires improved compared to the previous three years. Among new executive hires, diverse representation increased to 56.2% in 2021, compared to 40.0% in 2020.

Mayor Jim Kenney and his administration back in 2017 created the Exempt Employee Hiring Guidelines, which were supposed to serve the purpose of increasing diverse representation in the exempt workforce. Despite the guidelines not being mandatory, mayoral departments are expected to follow them. 

“This progress is significant and a positive step in the right direction toward a workforce that mirrors Philadelphia’s population,” said Acting City Controller Christy Brady in a release about the report. “While the city’s exempt workforce is not yet representative of Philadelphia’s population, there has been over the last few years.” 

Philadelphia employs roughly 4,700 people not hired through the civil service system, hence exempt employees. The workforce is made up of employees at all levels, including senior leadership positions, such as department and cabinet heads.

While the report shows some increases in key areas, there is still a lot of work to be done to truly reflect the city’s diverse demographic. 

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