Re-imagining a Bay Area Workforce System Grounded in Racial and Gender Equity, a report released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, examines how women and people of color have made untold contributions across industries, despite being denied basic rights and fair wages due to racism, sexism, and xenophobia baked into our workforce policies and practices. These injustices are amplified by the COVID-19 crisis, and the report shows why we will need a workforce system designed specifically to meet the needs of marginalized groups in order to have a just and inclusive recovery.

Supported by ReWork the Bay, a collaborative of funders, advocates, workers, and employers housed at The San Francisco Foundation, the report focuses on a growing low-wage workforce, disproportionately comprised of women and people of color, forced by our policy decisions to live on the edge long before COVID-19.

As detailed in the report, the Bay Area’s most common profession, personal care or caregiving, is 80 percent female, largely done by women of color, and pays a median hourly rate of $11.68 — well below San Francisco’s minimum wage.

The region’s top five most common jobs, including retail and food prep, are heavily filled by women and people of color; drastically impacted by the pandemic through high risk of exposure, mass closures, or little or no benefits; and pay a median wage about $90,000 less than other common occupations more frequently taken by white men. The very jobs powering the region barely provide millions of workers enough to keep the lights on and put food on the table, much less weather a health emergency, lay off, or recession.

As a result, nearly 1 in 3 Bay Area households are unable to afford basic needs like childcare, transportation, and housing – despite many struggling households working multiple jobs in sectors considered high-demand and essential.

Drawing on interviews with workforce leaders, practitioners, and marginalized working people, the report examines racial and gender bias and inequities among Bay Area workforce institutions by:

  • Analyzing the impact of key federal, state, and local policies and practices on working people of color and women in the Bay Area;
  • Uncovering dominant narratives in the public workforce system in the Bay Area that drive investments, policies and practice, and examining the extent to which workforce organizations reinforce harmful narratives about people of color, women and work; and
  • Incorporating the voices of systems leaders, practitioners, and working people to uncover both the true barriers to work and promising approaches to addressing racial inequities.

Revealing a lack of holistic and innovative initiatives working to address pervasive racial and gender biases among Bay Area workforce systems, the report highlights key findings from stakeholder interviews and shares recommendations for systems reform.

Click here to read and download the full report (PDF).

Click here to read and download a landscape of the Bay Area’s workforce development system (PDF).