Arjuna Capital Press Release: Two Down, 11 To Go: “Median Gender Pay Gap” Shareholder Proposals Gaining Ground During The 2020 Proxy Season
Listen to the Wednesday, March 4th telepressor recording here.
Arjuna Capital: Mastercard and Starbucks Are 2nd and 3rd U.S. Companies to Release More Detailed Gender/Racial Equity Data; 17 Companies Targeted by Investment Management Firm With 19 Resolutions During 2020 Shareholder Season.
BOSTON, MA.//March 4, 2020//Median gender pay equity disclosure – which requires companies to make public wage gaps between male and female employees across race and ethnicity, including base, bonus and equity compensation – is shaping up to be a top shareholder advocacy issue during the 2020 proxy season, according to a forecast made today by the investment management firm Arjuna Capital. To date, a total of 22 leading U.S. corporations have responded to Arjuna Capital’s shareholder resolutions by agreeing to provide gender pay gap disclosures, including three that have stepped up to the more stringent standard of disclosing median gender/racial pay equity data.
Arjuna Capital has submitted a total of 19 resolutions to 17 companies, including 13 calling for median gender/racial pay equity disclosure. Other key issues highlighted by Arjuna Capital for the 2020 shareholder season include climate risk, human/civil rights, and workplace sexual harassment.
In recent weeks, Mastercard and Starbucks have responded to Arjuna Capital median gender/racial pay equity resolutions and made the requested disclosure. (The first company to accede to such a resolution from Arjuna Capital was Citibank in January 2019). Microsoft recently opposed a median gender/racial pay equity resolution that Arjuna Capital put to a vote of shareholders at its annual meeting. Minus the shareholder-resolution withdrawals at Mastercard and Starbucks, the other companies that have faced or will face 2020 median gender pay equity resolutions are: Adobe, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo.
Arjuna Capital Managing Partner Natasha Lamb said: “Median gender and racial pay equity is going to be a major issue in the 2020 shareholder season. We now have nearly two dozen companies that have responded to our shareholder resolutions on the gender/racial pay gap, including three that have taken the next step by producing median gender/racial equity disclosure. The only question now is which among America’s leading companies will be the leaders and which will be the laggards by fighting this common-sense step. Investors view ‘median pay,’ ‘equal pay,’ and ‘racial pay’ gap disclosures as essential to not only measuring and managing pay equity, but as benchmarks to improved diversity in higher-paying jobs, and the performance benefits that diversity affords.”
Commenting on the Arjuna Capital 2020 shareholder season forecast, David Cohen, co-chair and co-founder, The Institute for Workplace Equality, said: “It is critical that organizations examine the many employment practices that contribute to overall pay equity and diversity within their organization. The Institute for Workplace Equality has created a new comprehensive index to evaluate pay equity, the Pay Equity Index (PEI). The PEI is a powerful and distinct index that provides a holistic view of an organization’s pay practices and lays a foundation to enhance diversity initiatives within a company. The PEI is able to take a holistic view while providing practical solutions. Employers will receive an overall indicator as part of the PEI scorecard, as well as information on areas to focus on to boost the overall pay equity score. We believe the PEI to be pivotal in addressing the pay gap. ”
The full text of a representative Arjuna Capital median gender pay equity resolution is available online here.
In addition to median gender/racial pay disclosure, Arjuna Capital is focusing during 2020 on:
· Climate risk (Chevron and ExxonMobil). The ExxonMobil resolution reads: “Shareholders request the Board of Directors charter a new Board Committee on Climate Risk to evaluate the board and management’s climate strategy and to better inform board decision making on climate risks and opportunities … including the potential impacts of climate change on business, strategy, financial planning, and our company’s operating environment.”
· Human/civil rights (Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet/Google). The Facebook resolution notes: “Shareholders request that Facebook’s Board of Directors nominate for the next Board election at least one candidate who has a high level of human and/or civil rights expertise and experience and is widely recognized as such … Shareholders believe Facebook requires expert, board-level oversight of civil and human rights issues to assess risk and develop strategy to avoid causing or contributing to widespread violations of human or civil rights, such as supporting genocide, hate campaigns, or violence.”
· Workplace sexual harassment (Comcast/NBC Universal). The Comcast/NBC Universal resolution cites “an alleged failure to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, failing to hold those culpable accountable, and lacking transparency … To avoid legal and reputational risk, as the employer of 184,000 workers, Comcast must create a culture of accountability and transparency, and protect employees from harassment and discrimination.”
Arjuna Capital is an investor champion of workplace concerns for women and minorities, touting the business case for equity and diversity in corporate ranks. In 2019 and 2018, Arjuna persuaded Starbucks, Citibank, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, American Express, Mastercard, Reinsurance Group and Progressive Insurance to publish their gender and racial pay gaps on an equal pay for equal work basis. Since 2016, Arjuna Capital has compelled gender pay gap disclosures from 22 companies, including leading U.S. tech and retail firms Apple, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, eBay, Adobe, Expedia, and Nike.
“Median” gender/racial pay disclosures — as opposed to “equal pay” data — expose a lack of female/minority representation in higher-paying jobs, and less women/minorities in leadership. This new level of transparency, in line with the disclosures mandated in the United Kingdom, provides US investors with baseline metrics to understand broad pay equity at portfolio companies. That is, the difference between what men make and what women make, and what minorities and non-minorities make on a median, unadjusted basis.
The World Economic Forum estimates the gender pay gap costs the economy $1.2 trillion annually. The median income for all women working full time in the United States is still just 80 percent of that of their male counterparts. This disparity can equal nearly half a million dollars over a career. The gap for African American and Latina women is 60 percent and 55 percent that of men. At the current rate, women will not reach pay parity until 2059.
ABOUT ARJUNA CAPITAL
Arjuna Capital is a sustainable and impact investment firm that works with high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions to invest with a lens toward Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk and opportunity. Natasha Lamb and Arjuna Capital have been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote gender and racial pay equity in the tech, banking, and retail sectors. Natasha Lamb was named to the “Bloomberg 50” list of influencers who defined global business in 2017. For more information, visit arjuna-capital.com.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR WORKPLACE EQUALITY
The Institute for Workplace Equality is a national nonprofit employer association based in Washington, D.C. The Institute trains and educates federal contractors in understanding and complying with their affirmative action and equal employment opportunity obligations. Our programs also address management strategies to assist employers in creating and maintaining diverse organizations free from workplace bias. For more information, visit theinstitute4workplaceequality.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alexander Frank | 703-276-3264 | email@example.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of this news event will be available on the web as of 5 p.m. ET on March 4th at www.arjuna-capital.com.