Oct 26, 2021 - Politics
Little improvement in Philly mayoral departments' diversity, report finds
Photo: Cory Clark/Getty Images
Photo: Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Philadelphia saw minimal improvements in the representation of people of color in mayoral departments this fiscal year.

Why it matters: More than 65% of Philadelphia's population identifies as a race other than white, per the office. But people of color only make up around 54% of the employees in mayoral departments with exempt status.

  • Exempt employees are paid a salary, non-union, and do executive work. These people are usually staffers, but not elected officials.

Details: The office, which assessed 4,800 employees, uses data on exempt employee staff because there's more control over who gets hired.

Zoom in: The increase of overall diversity in mayoral departments is primarily because of Asian hires, the only demographic to see a significant increase over the last year.

  • Hispanic representation has stayed relatively the same. There were no Hispanic hires last year for executive positions.
  • Black representation, meanwhile, declined compared to last fiscal year.
  • White employees made up 60% of new hires last fiscal year.
Chart: Office of the Controller

Of note: The Office of the Controller's breakdown of exempt workers: 11 white employees, 11 Black employees, one Hispanic employee and one Asian employee.

Flashback: Mayor Jim Kenney's administration created the Exempt Hiring Guide in 2017 to try to diversify the city's exempt workforce.

What they're saying: "This isn't transformational, and that's troubling," City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said. "When we don't have diversity that represents our population, we're not going to do adequate service."

  • Kenney administration spokesperson Kevin Lessard said the Office of the Controller utilized a larger dataset when defining exempt employees, compared to the 2020 Workforce Diversity Report. He also critiqued parts of the report that include data from the District Attorney's Office and the First Judicial District.
  • "The Kenney administration will continue efforts to increase diverse recruitment and hiring, and implement new strategies to ensure equitable processes," Lessard said in a statement to Axios.
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