BOS Hearing on Women and Economics


Impact of the Economic Crisis on San Francisco's Women and Girls

Board of Supervisors
Land Use and Economic Development Committee
Sophie Maxwell, Chair; David Chiu; Eric Mar
Also attending: Carmen Chu

On Monday, December 7, 2009, the Land Use and Economic Development Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors held a hearing entitled The Current Economic Crisis: Impact and Recommendations for San Francisco's Women and Girls. The Commission and Department on the Status of Women partnered with the Board in organizing this important hearing. Below is a summary of remarks and recommendations made by scheduled speakers and the public.


1. Track fiscal stimulus funds by requiring the collection of voluntarily reported gender, race, and other demographic data of recipients.
2. Institute a check box for voluntary identification of gender, race, and other demographic data on business registration applications.
3. Require reporting on the number of women at job sites of major construction projects receiving fiscal stimulus funds.
4. Protect training opportunities at City College and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and ensure that outreach efforts reach women.
5. Continue to support childcare subsidies as a necessary component of economic recovery.
6. Prioritize funding for the start-up of micro-business enterprises, especially for women and minority owned businesses.
7. Prioritize funding for programs that address women's health and violence against women, which constitute fundamental human rights of women.


President Andrea Shorter, Commission on the Status of Women
Commission President Andrea Shorter set the tone for the event with a call for comprehensive, City-wide data collection and for oversight of outreach to ensure it reaches women.

She made it known that the City is already on the right track in these areas. For example, the Women's Human Rights Ordinance requires departments to collect and analyze data about race, gender, and other demographics. The City is moving toward performance-based budgeting and Gender Responsive Budgeting – both great ways to improve the equity of budgetary decisions. Also, the City is moving toward greater transparency and accountability through websites like

President Shorter stated that the next necessary step is to require City departments using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds to track how it is being used and if that use is equitable by collecting gender, race, and other demographic data of recipients. This will help the City know who is receiving the benefits of the Stimulus Act. For example, if the recipients are contractors, then the City should know who the contractors are hiring for the new building projects here in the City.

President Shorter highlighted that, alarmingly, San Francisco has no idea how many women-owned businesses there are, let alone businesses owned by women of color. Putting voluntary check-boxes on business license applications, asking for gender, race, and age, at minimum, can provide the City with the information it needs to better align its services to the constituents needing them.

The second recommendation involved outreach. The City's recruitment for job training, apprenticeships, and other ARRA-funded job programs must demonstrate that they have made a full-faith effort to include women, and this can be mandated by the Board of Supervisors.

Kate Howard, Mayor's Office of Policy and Finance
Kate Howard began by providing general information about how ARRA funds have been used. San Francisco has been allocated about $500 million through the Stimulus Act, with the majority coming to the City through Medicare cost-sharing. To date, only 16% has been spent, and San Francisco has not yet received much of the remainder. A challenge to understanding if women are receiving the benefits of ARRA lies in the fact that there are few provisions that require demographic data collection. The federal government only requests the number of jobs created and the amount of money spent, though even this is new and cumbersome for many grantees.

In the first quarter, San Francisco saw the creation of 422 new jobs through ARRA funding. The majority of new jobs were created by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), though many were also created by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), primarily through a summer youth employment program. In addition to the new jobs created, San Francisco saw job preservation through Medicare cost reimbursement, and through the implementation of capital projects at SFMTA and the airport.

One ARRA-funded program that does collect a significant amount of demographic data is Jobs Now! SF, a program operated by the Human Services Agency and supported by ARRA funds allocated through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Jobs Now will create 2,000 subsidized jobs in San Francisco before September 2010. To be eligible for these jobs, the participant must be a San Francisco resident, a parent, and earning less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Line. San Francisco interprets this last requirement to mean that the person has been unemployed for over 30 days.

The jobs are split evenly between the public, private, and non-profit sectors (33% each), with most participants between ages 25 and 54. There are approximately 16% youth participants, meaning there are a number of very young parents seeking work in San Francisco. Of the 1,138 current participants, 781 (69%) are women, many of whom are single parents. There are 390 employers participating in Jobs Now.

Supervisor Maxwell asked what happens after September 2010, urging that coordinators of the program develop systems to track the success of participants. Are they getting full-time employment, or will they be jobless again once the subsidization ends? Ms. Howard indicated that the Obama Administration is also very interested in the impact of ARRA funds, and HSA has been tracking individuals very closely using a variety of indicators and demographics. This data collection practice provides a good example for other City agencies and programs.

Outreach for participants in Jobs Now has been successful, with over 3,800 eligible participants identified. The City is now targeting outreach efforts toward businesses, especially information technology and biotech industries. Salaries are entirely covered by the ARRA funding, and those employers would only need to cover payroll taxes and workers' compensation.

In addition to Jobs Now, Ms. Howard informed the Supervisors that OEWD has created 3 new academies: the Green Jobs Academy, the Health Care Sector Academy, and the Social Services Sector Academy. These will commence in the spring, funded by a federal Workforce Investment Act allocation. These academies have been modeled after City Build, which trains participants in a career field by placing them in apprenticeships in that field.

Jenny Erwin, Women's Bureau, Department of Labor, Region 9
Jenny Erwin provided details about the variety of steps the Women's Bureau has taken to determine community needs and to address them. In January and February 2009, the Women's Bureau organized a series of virtual listening sessions with constituents and providers. In these sessions, the Women's Bureau heard a great demand for services, and also realized that many women do not know what options are available to them. They heard that older women are particularly vulnerable, with outdated skill sets and extreme competition with younger job seekers.

Following these listening sessions, the Women's Bureau hosted a series of hearings nationwide entitled, Economic Recovery – What Women Need to Know. From these hearings, the Women's Bureau learned that outreach was needed to inform women about their options and the services available. Additionally, more data was necessary to understand the full scope of both the crisis and the recovery efforts.

As a large portion of the ARRA funding will go to shovel-ready green jobs, the Women's Bureau hosted a series of Green Jobs Roundtables to create awareness about jobs with solid career paths, to identify best practices to recruit, hire, and retain women, and to create partnerships within communities. One such roundtable was hosted in San Leandro in October 2009 in partnership with Tradeswomen, Inc. From these roundtables, the Women's Bureau learned that there is limited training, a lack of jobs, a lack of role models, a lack of childcare, and a lack of funding for entrepreneurial enterprises started by women. From this, the Women's Bureau funded 9 pilot projects to train women about these green job opportunities and to address some of the gaps identified through the roundtables. The Women's Bureau will also be producing a resource guide to summarize the learnings gleaned from the many events sponsored this year.

Ms. Erwin recommended that San Francisco ensure that information about funding and programs get out to women throughout the community, and to create local tracking systems to show the impact of the work. Additionally, San Francisco should focus on building strategic new partnerships to reach a wider audience with outreach efforts, and thus with recovery efforts overall.

Veronica Hunnicutt, City College of San Francisco
Dr. Hunnicutt spoke about new programming that City College will be offering next semester related to green jobs. Green Launchpad, an ARRA-funded course, is a partnership between City College, OEWD, Jewish Vocational Services, and Goodwill Industries. It is a semester-long training on green career options. Participants are generally 18-24 years old, and are often taking college courses for the first time. After taking the Green Launchpad course, students can then enroll in additional courses in the green track at City College. Dr. Hunnicutt will be hosting 3 orientation sessions at various City College campuses throughout the City.

The focus of outreach for these career-track educational programs has been to inform women that they can train, on a short-term basis, for jobs that pay a livable wage, such as solar panel installation. City College promotes life-long education and training opportunities. City College has a designated Dean of Outreach and Recruitment and a successful Student Ambassador program also conducts outreach.

Supervisor Chu inquired about vocational English as a Second Language training, and outreaching to students with language needs. Dr. Hunnicutt indicated that City College has a Dean working on these issues, to ensure that the benefits of a City College education can reach all communities.

Linnea Klee, Children's Council
Ms. Klee highlighted the need for the Board of Supervisors to consider childcare issues as an integral aspect of recovery efforts. According to Ms. Klee, the childcare system is a predominantly female workforce. Childcare is early education and has significant economic importance. San Francisco has put a great deal of work into creating the childcare system. While functional, it is very fragile. It must be seen as a system, rather than reduced to individual components that can be eliminated.

San Francisco has the lowest child population of any urban area. Of these children, 32% are poor. There are 4,400 eligible children waiting for a childcare subsidy (amounting to 2/3 of the poor children in San Francisco). Only 43% of children can find licensed childcare in San Francisco. The remainder must rely on family or friends. One in ten workers have children under 13 with both parents employed, and 19% of new mothers live in poverty and likely will not receive childcare assistance.
Regina Dick-Endrizzi, Small Business Commission
The Small Business Assistance Center opened in May 2008, just before the financial crisis began. The top 3 businesses seen by the Center are food handling (e.g., home-based catering), retail, and professional services (e.g., consulting).

The Center requests demographic data from individuals using its services, but because it is voluntary to respond, the response rate is at about 1%, so demographic figures are not entirely reliable. Despite this, data shows that as of January 2009, 41% of individuals using the Center were women. The revolving loan program has distributed 7 loans, 4 of which went to women.

The Small Business Commission is also a partner in the Jobs Now program, supporting outreach efforts with San Francisco businesses. Supervisors inquired whether Jobs Now funds could be used by participants in starting their own businesses, but it seems that this may not be allowable. Funds are not available to the business owner directly, only for jobs. However, in several cases, single-person businesses have been able to expand using Jobs Now. The primary issue has been finding affordable workers' compensation insurance and upfront capital for payroll, as Jobs Now works on a reimbursement basis. The Small Business Commission has been active in supporting these businesses in finding resources they need to be able to take advantage of the ARRA Jobs Now funding for staff. In fact, smaller businesses have been taking advantage of Jobs Now more than larger companies.

Ms. Dick-Endrizzi supported the earlier recommendation to include a voluntary check box on business tax forms to be able to collect data about who business owners in San Francisco are. She also recommended finding new ways to connect women to neighborhood business development programs.

Teresa Sparks, Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission tracks demographic information of business ownership through its certification program, and Ms. Sparks began by offering some statistics. Of the businesses certified by the Human Rights Commission under the Local Business Enterprise Ordinance, only 28% are owned by women. Construction businesses have the lowest percentage of women businesses owners, at 12%. General Services and Professional Services businesses had the highest percentages, at 34% and 37% respectively.

Overall, there is a lower percent of contracts finally awarded to women than there are women certified. One barrier to being awarded a contract is the need for quick turnaround in getting bond financing. This is challenging for small businesses, and HRC has begun pre-qualifying businesses to expedite the process and provide these businesses with more leverage in the bidding process.

One way the HRC is attempting to even the playing field is through increasing outreach about contract availability. HRC has begun distributing a monthly newsletter, and is partnering with the Small Business Commission and with the Treasurer to increase the reach of that newsletter. HRC's outreach list is just 6,000, but with these partners, the newsletter will reach 50,000. Through increased outreach, it is the hope to raise the number of women-owned businesses certified to do business with the City. Additionally, HRC is engaging in a new 6-month partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce in the Bayview to do targeted outreach in that community.

Thais Rezende, Women's Initiative
Ms. Rezende provided statistics about the success of Women's Initiative. For example, one year after receiving training through Women's Initiative, 90% of clients are either employed or self-employed. Of the women who start their own businesses, 70% are still in business, with steady sales, 5 years later. These women hire an average of 3 employees, and pay $9 over minimum wage. The businesses are generally green, sustainable, and socially responsible. It is clear that women's entrepreneurship is critical to long-term City-wide economic recovery.

Meg Vasey, Tradeswomen, Inc.
The barriers for women in the construction trades are formidable, especially after Proposition 209 ended the quotas that promoted women in these fields. Registered apprenticeships are down from 7% in 1996 to 2% currently. In some specialized trades, women make up less than 1% of registered apprentices.

According to Ms. Vasey, there needs to be a critical mass of women in the trades or individual women are less likely to succeed in the field. Women typically receive less training on the worksite, and so have fewer skills when leaving the apprenticeship, making them less marketable.

Ms. Vasey had several recommendations for the use of new ARRA training dollars. The federal government has clear goals about the recruitment of women on job sites, namely that 6.9% of employees must be women. San Francisco should ensure that contractors hired to implement the new construction projects adhere to these requirements. Additionally, Tradeswomen endorses the collection of data on all federal contracts. Another suggestion is to make all ARRA projects into Mega Projects which require increased oversight.

Ms. Vasey stated that contractors need support and encouragement to do more. There needs to be partnership and collaboration with contractors to do the hard work of recruitment, mentoring, and placement needed to turn a woman candidate into a skilled worker.


Vanessa Flores, Asian Women Shelter
Ms. Flores provided information about Project SEED, a program of Narika that supports women moving out of domestic violence situations into safety and stability. Project SEED (Survivor Economic Empowerment and Development) is a 1-year program that teaches English language skills, provides job training, and instructs survivors in entrepreneurship. This has proven to be a successful transitional model that others can use and learn from in creating City-wide recovery.

Dr. Amy Bacharach, San Francisco Women's Political Committee
Dr. Bacharach stated that women are now the largest force for economic growth, and if the City doesn't support women's economic issues, it risks extending the recession. She added that the economic crisis has a disproportionate effect on women on several fronts, including underemployment and unemployment, childcare, lack of adequate and affordable housing, underrepresentation in decision-making roles, and increased domestic violence and trafficking. In considering those issues, Dr. Bacharach provided the Supervisors with the following recommendations:

  • Fight to eliminate the pay gap between women and men for the same jobs, and promote awareness of this existing gap.
  • Develop and expand after-school programs or activities in schools that extend to the end of the workday, as leaving work early to deal with childcare affects women's earnings and promotion potential.
  • Develop and expand affordable housing options, recognizing realistic financial constraints of single mothers and families, noting that housing that is 50% to 70% of a person's income is not realistic.
  • Create opportunities for women and girls to advance in their careers, develop citywide micro-lending for women-owned businesses, and create loan forgiveness programs for higher education.
  • Continue fighting for resources for domestic violence and trafficking victims. Do not allow funding for shelters to be considered as optional for cuts.

Paula Fisal, Business Owner
Ms. Fisal, who is engaged in the construction industry, highlighted the need for close oversight of the City's public works contracts. She expressed frustration at the lack of success among women-owned businesses in securing these contracts. She urged improved tracking of contracting data.

Katie McCall, Women's Community Clinic
Ms. McCall informed the Supervisors that women are most likely to be uninsured or underinsured, and that women also make the majority of healthcare decisions for their families. In addition to being a free community clinic for women, the Women's Community Clinic also has the goal of training women in the healthcare profession. The Clinic actively uses volunteers, and 73% of them go on to college in a health field. The Clinic's Western Addition Health Training Program is a 2-year paid fellowship that has seen tremendous success in promoting the health professions. Ms. McCall urged the City to support organizations that are bridging the gap between service provision, job training, and the volunteer sector.

Supervisor Maxwell made it clear in her final comments that this is only first of a series of hearings on this topic, and that the Board of Supervisors would continue to address the issue of engaging women in economic recovery efforts. President Chiu stated the he was open to policy initiatives that would move the agenda forward.