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Diversity and pay levels in city workforce

by PRIDE Newsdesk
(Top photo): Nashville residents viewing the results of the IncluCivics survey at the Nashville Public Library in downtown Nashville. (Bottom photo): A chart from the IncluCivics survey shows the average salary of Metro Nashville employees by race from 2015-2022.

by Justin Darden

Nashville residents and concerned local leaders got the opportunity to examine a recently released report that showed how the city is doing regarding the diversity level and salary level of Metropolitan Nashville’s workforce and improvements that must be made on May 1.

IncluCivics, a report conducted by the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission, is an analysis examining the employee demographics and salaries of Nashville employees across 51 Metro Nashville departments. The report was divided into categories such as race, gender, and salary equity. According to the report, there was an overall decrease in White employees in Metro Nashville government while the percentage of African Americans, Hispanics, and employees of two or more races had increased from 2015-22. The report also showed that the percentage of White hires was decreasing, while the percentage of African American hires had increased. Cathy Carrillo, media relations assistant for the Human Relations Commission, said the purpose of the survey was to examine the demographics of Metro Nashville’s workforce including sex, age, and race. People visiting the gallery report findings at the Nashville Public Library are able to discover why there were disparities in Metro Nashville’s workforce.

“One of the things that stood out to me had to do with who is working in which departments, what it means in terms of race and gender and the disparities in pay,” said Carrillo. “Another thing that stood out is the income brackets. Often people of color are making the lowest on the income brackets while White people are making more. We know these disparities exist, but it’s interesting to see it in a real broad way right in front of you in color.”

The report highlighted salaries and differences in pay by race and ethnicity. The average salary of White employees in Nashville were the highest, followed by Asian/Pacific Islander, Native Americans, and mixed-race employees. According to the report, the salary of full-time employees affected the income of Metro Nashville employees in 2022 by race when it came to salary differences. In 2022, the salary difference for White employees in Nashville was $70,000 while the average salary for African Americans was $59,000 and the salaries for Hispanics and Asian Americans were $58,000 and $69,000 respectively. The report also showed the average starting salary had significant racial differences. The starting salary for Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Nashville had a starting salary $64,000 in 2022, higher than the starting salaries of Hispanics, African Americans, and White Americans.

When it came to employment by gender, the report highlighted a huge pay disparity between male and female employees in Nashville. According to the report, male employees accounted for 60% of Metro Nashville’s workforce and female employees accounted for 40% of the workforce; however, new hiring is starting to lean towards gender parity. The report also showed that regarding salary, male employees tend to make earn slightly more in wages than females. Jennifer Wang, one of the event attendees, said the report highlighted improvements in hiring practices and changes that needed to be made in Metro Nashville’s hiring process.

“What really stood out to me is that the departments that were the largest were the ones that were about policing us and that highest paid departments were legally-oriented,” said Wang.

Wang said the report showed Metro Nashville government had the highest number of African American employees, while the percentage of White Americans was decreasing—even though they were the highest paid employees in Metro Nashville. The Asian American population in Metro government has also started to improve. Wang said she would like to see the city post jobs on their website and reach out to different community organizations for recruiting help.

The report also highlighted disparities in residents living in Davidson County. According to the report, there are more African American (73%) and Hispanic employees (52%) living in Davidson County than White employees (44%). The report also called for areas of improvement, such as retaining more employees living in Davidson County.

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