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City of LA: Empowering girls and women with gender equity

At a glance

We helped Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Wakeland accelerate gender equity across the city of LA. Now, all 38 city departments—from the LAPD to Engineering—have clear, measurable plans for gender equity. This means more opportunities, and a better future, for the two million girls and women of LA.

What we did

  • City-wide gender equity program
  • Change management
  • Tableau dashboards
  • Public sector

What does gender equity mean to Los Angeles?

Gender equity is about making sure women and men have equal access to the same resources and opportunities. It’s about giving a girl the same chance at becoming a fire captain, or a star swimmer, or a technology leader, as the boys in her class.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Wakeland have been lifelong champions of gender equity. And when Garcetti became mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, they made it a priority.

In 2015, Garcetti’s office—with the help of Mount Saint Mary’s University—chartered the first-ever data-driven Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Los Angeles. The goal: to understand the status of gender equity in LA and set the bar for measuring progress.

“The results were revelatory,” says Amanda Daflos, Chief Innovation Officer for Mayor Garcetti and lead of the gender equity work at the Mayor’s office. The report demonstrated the need to support women across LA in a variety of ways—from supporting women-owned businesses, to helping more women get into city services careers like the police force and fire department, to diversifying the Mayor’s own workforce.

In 2016, Mayor Garcetti asked all city departments to create gender equity plans for their departments based on the results of the report.

Baseline stats from the 2015 report

The departments submitted plans and were making progress toward their goals, but because the goals were more narrative than data-based, success was difficult to measure and report. That’s why in 2018, the Mayor asked the departments to make strategic updates to their plans.

“We wanted Slalom's wisdom on how a department could best structure a plan in a more data-based and actionable way,” says Daflos.

Daflos, along with her team’s gender equity manager Tanya Pineda and Slalom consultants, met with all 38 departments individually. Together, we started by having honest discussions with the departments about what gender equity is and why it matters in the city of LA. Then we coached the teams on how to develop action-based plans.

“A huge lesson was the importance of having intimate meetings with departments and stakeholders,” says Daflos. “By meeting in small groups with an intention for each meeting, we were able to really understand what they wanted to focus on, make commitments, and hold each other accountable."

She adds, “In government, we’re often running to the finish line, trying to get the job done, and don’t necessarily provide the opportunity for that discussion and coaching. This is a case where people realized how helpful a methodical and collaborative process could be as far as effecting change. It’s a process that we’d love to replicate, in terms of being able to operationalize a goal and have a plan that our talented departments can lead.”

Simple, reliable progress reports

Slalom also helped the departments get more consistent with how they collect data and pull reports, which they were doing manually before. Using Tableau Prep, we consolidated and transformed old Excel files into a single, clean data source. We then used Tableau Desktop to create visualizations to analyze gender data by department and employment category (e.g., leadership or administrative). The teams were impressed with the ability to interact with the dashboard, filtering and hovering over graphs for deeper insights.

The departments send updates on their progress every quarter, and the Mayor’s office holds an annual State of Women and Girls conference, where the Mayor and First Lady can celebrate the departments’ great work and share their vision for the next year.

In government, we’re often running to the finish line, trying to get the job done . . . This is a case where people realized how helpful a methodical and collaborative process could be as far as effecting change.”

Life-changing results

The results from the departments’ gender equity work are impressive—and will be life-saving in some cases. Highlights include:

  • The Domestic Abuse Response Team went from operating in just 10 of the Police Department’s geographic areas to all 21, covering the whole city.
  • $4.5 million additional dollars were invested in shelters across Los Angeles for victims of sexual trafficking and domestic violence.
  • All rape kits are checked within 90 days
  • The Fire Department promoted a woman to the position of Fire Marshal, a woman to the rank of Battalion Chief, and a woman to be an Arson Investigator (she’s also the first woman named Firefighter of the Year).
  • The Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor is now a woman
  • A woman is in charge of the $13 billion renovation at LAX
  • Mayor Garcetti closed the wage gap in his office between men and women
  • Female participation in Parks and Rec programming is at an all-time high: 45% of participants are female, compared to 25% when the Mayor took office. The city aims to achieve gender parity in sports and physical fitness programs before the 2028 Olympics, hosted in LA.

“We're nine years out from the Olympics, and that's frankly a reasonable amount of time for female athletes from Los Angeles to come up and be coached and trained and make their way into the Olympics,” says Daflos.

The gender equity toolkit we created is something that any city, organization, or team can use. In fact, Slalom is now using the toolkit to help a major city in Canada create its own gender equity plans. We’re also using it within our own technology teams to make sure women are represented at every level, on every team.

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