Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has used the gender pay gap to score political points, but a new study by government transparency nonprofit Open the Books shows his city is one of the worst offenders.
Emanuel, a longtime Democratic operative who was former President Obama's first White House chief of staff, was first elected as Chicago's mayor in 2011. He has regularly issued official mayoral proclamations establishing Women's Equal Pay Day in Chicago and calling on all employers to adopt a "commitment to advance equal pay for women."
The data compiled by Open the Books show Emanuel has failed to close the gender pay gap on his own payroll, where just 12 of the top 100 salaries for city employees in 2016 were for women.
"In Rahm Emanuel's City of Chicago, just 12 females made the list of the top 100 most highly compensated employees last year," explains Adam Andrzejewski, who runs Open the Books out of Chicago.
Andrzejewski was critical of Emanuel's decision to issue mayoral proclamations such as the one from April before he rectifies the disparities he himself controls.
"Mayor Emanuel has serious gender gap issues in budgets he manages yet he supported rallies on Equal Pay Day and sent out mayoral proclamations lamenting, ‘women continue to suffer the consequences of unequal pay,’" Andrzejewski said. "Perhaps he should rectify the disparities in his own payroll first."
Open the Books's analysis of Chicago was done during a larger study that compiled salary figures from the 25 largest federal agencies, congressional offices, and the White House. It also analyzed the five most populous states—California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.
The highest salary in Chicago went to aviation commissioner Ginger Evans, a woman who brought in $400,000 in 2016. But the next 14 best-compensated employees were all men.
The amount of money brought in by the highest paid men dwarfed the amount paid to women.
"The 88 top-earning males made $17.5 million while the females earned $2.5 million," Andrzejewski found.
Andrzejewski's study found that gender pay disparities were common at all levels of government and in the offices of politicians from both sides of the aisle. He suggests that politicians should stop directing criticism at the private sector and address the inequality that exists in their own show.
"More than 50 years after American women began entering the workforce in droves during the feminist movement of the 1960s, allegations of gender inequality in the workplace still make the news," Andrzejewski said. "Typically, the story stars a politician castigating the private sector.
"Our study shows that government is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the gender gap. Perhaps it's time an army of ‘fearless girls' stormed government and demanded results, not rhetoric, from our politicians."
Emanuel is not the only mayor guilty of using the gender pay gap as a political issue while failing to address problems in his own shop—Open the Books released its finding last month that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio oversees a payroll where only 3 of the top 200 highest-paid city employees were women.
Emanuel's office did not respond to a request for comment on the Open the Books study.
Andrzejewski has long been a critic of Emanuel's management of Chicago, where his group is based. He pointed out to Forbes that 10,600 city employees are making six-figure salaries despite promises by Emanuel to scrub inefficiencies from the payroll.