Park City wants to guard against gender gaps at City Hall | ParkRecord.com

Park City wants to guard against gender gaps at City Hall

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Park City officials want to ensure women have opportunities within the City Hall ranks and will likely join a statewide movement meant to boost the presence of women in leadership roles.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday are scheduled to discuss participating in a program known as the ElevateHER Challenge. It is organized by the Salt Lake City-based Women’s Leadership Institute.

The elected officials have set aside 30 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m. for the discussion. The meeting is scheduled in the City Council’s chambers at the Marsac Building. A hearing is not planned, but the mayor sometimes allows the public to provide input nonetheless.

A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting, written by Ann Ober, a senior policy analyst for the municipal government, says officials have seated a committee to "discuss how we can ‘elevate the stature of women’s leadership’ here in Park City and specifically within the Park City Municipal government structure." The committee recommended City Hall sign the ElevateHER Challenge, according to the report.

The committee, comprised of seven women and three men, wants City Hall to consider ways to "even better support women here at the City," the report says.

The ElevateHER Challenge organizers suggest an institution like the municipal government focus on seven points as it promotes leadership opportunities for women. The points include putting more women in top-tier leadership positions, retaining more women, monitoring pay gaps between genders and establishing development or mentoring programs designed for women. It also suggests that women should be urged to seek elected office.

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"Ensure that woman are included in the candidate pool for senior-level positions. Understand and communicate the value of women leaders to the success of the organization. Encourage women to apply for senior leadership positions," the Women’s Leadership Institute says as it described the ElevateHER Challenge.

The ElevateHER Challenge says 68 organizations businesses, government institutions, universities and not-for-profit groups have joined since the May launch.

The report to the elected officials indicates staffers want to spend several months researching issues like the retention of women and pay gaps. The staffers would return later if there are recommendations for changes, the report says. It acknowledges that "Park City is actually already doing an exceptional job in these areas."

It is rare for a gender-based issue to arise within the Park City government. There have been a few noteworthy episodes over the past 20 years, but none of them appeared to be a result of deep-rooted issues at City Hall.

There are numerous women in ranking posts at City Hall, including City Manager Diane Foster and other high-level staffers. Two of the six elected officials in Park City are women City Councilors Liza Simpson and Cindy Matsumoto. The makeup will be split evenly in early January, when there will be three women on the City Council once City Councilors-elect Nann Worel and Becca Gerber are sworn into office. Simpson will retire. There has not been a woman mayor of Park City, however.