Showdown On Gender Pay Equity In Silicon Valley: Shareholders Press Seven Tech Giants To Follow Lead Of Intel, Apple On Fair Treatment Of Women

Momentum Grows As Apple Now Second to Embrace Gender Pay Equity; Google, Facebook, Microsoft, E-Bay, Other Top Tech Firms Face Proxy Votes, Dialogues Aiming to Curb Gender-based Compensation Abuses; Average $10,000 Gap Seen in Pay Between Men & Women.

02 Mar, 2016, 11:08 ET from Arjuna Capital, Boston

BOSTON, March 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Which top US technology companies will end up branded as laggards and which will be touted as leaders on gender pay equity reform? 

That's a real question since seven of America's best-known technology companies – including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and E-Bay – face 2016 proxy season votes and other direct shareholder pressure to follow the lead taken by Intel on February 3rd in announcing that it has achieved 100 percent gender equity on pay.  Yesterday, Apple confirmed to concerned shareholders that it is the second major tech company to embrace gender pay equity, with 99.6 percent equal pay.

In addition to its work in encouraging the steps at Intel and Apple, Arjuna Capital, in partnership with Baldwin Brothers Inc., filed seven resolutions at other technology companies asking them to commit to closing the gender pay equity gap.  (The move by Apple followed resolutions and shareholder dialogue initiated by Arjuna Capital and Pax World Management.)

The seven tech companies now in the crosshairs on the gender pay equity issue are: E-Bay (vote scheduled for May); Amazon (now opposing resolution at the US Securities and Exchange Commission); Expedia (vote scheduled for June); Google (vote scheduled for June); Adobe (dialogue with company now underway); Facebook (vote scheduled for June); and Microsoft (resolution now being filed ahead of shareholder meeting in December).

A link to a representative shareholder resolution (Facebook) is available at: http://www.arjuna-capital.com/sites/default/files/FB%20Shareholder%20Proposal_Gender%20Pay%20Equity_0.pdf.

Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement, at Arjuna Capital applauded Intel's leadership: "The excellent moves by Intel and now Apple on gender pay equity means that the clock is ticking for the rest of America's major technology companies.  Silicon Valley can no longer claim this is an issue unworthy of its attention. Gender pay equity is critical to creating a diverse and innovative workforce and tech companies cannot sit this discussion out – they have to speak up for fair pay.  Soon we will see which companies join Intel and Apple as leaders … and which end up tagged as laggards on paying women a fair wage.  Now, the big question is:  Can you be an Amazon, or an E-Bay, or a Google, or a Microsoft and be pegged as the last major tech company to take action on gender pay equity?"

Lamb said: "Gender pay equity is good for technology companies, it is good for its workers, and it is good for shareholders.  A commitment to gender pay equity is essential to driving innovation and performance in Silicon Valley and the rest of the tech world.  It's not simply a question of fairness; it is a question of breaking down the structural bias that keeps women in the back seat and business from reaching its full potential."

On February 3, Intel reported it achieved 100 percent gender pay equity in 2015.  In response, Arjuna Capital, which filed a shareholder proposal asking the company to report on the company's policies and goals to close the gender pay gap, has formally withdrawn the proxy ballot measure. See the Arjuna Capital news release here: http://www.arjuna-capital.com/sites/default/files/020316-Arjuna-Intel-Gender-Pay-Equity-Release.pdf. The latest step by Apple was confirmed to Arjuna Capital and Pax World Funds during shareholder dialogue Monday with the tech giant.  The company indicated it has achieved 99.6 percent gender pay equity (not including bonuses and stock).

Intel and Apple joined the ranks of very few US companies that have been accountable and transparent in their commitment to gender pay equity.  Notably, The Gap, Salesforce.com and GoDaddy have shown leadership in this critical area. 

On a national level, women, who are paid an average of 78 cents for every dollar men earn, will not reach pay parity until 2058. In the technology industry, which struggles to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, recruiting firm Dice reports men earned nearly $10,000 more than women on average in 2014.  

Technology companies thrive by attracting and retaining the best talent, including women, and by driving competitive advantage through innovation. And there is a substantial body of research indicating that gender-diverse teams are more productive and innovative and drive better results than homogenous ones.

McKinsey & Company states "the business case for the advancement and promotion of women is compelling" finding companies with highly diverse executive teams boasted higher returns on equity (+10.7 percent), earnings performance (+91.4 percent), and stock price growth (+36 percent). McKinsey advocates best practices to address this underleveraged opportunity including "tracking and eliminating gender pay gaps."

"Gender pay disparity not only is one of the biggest social justice issues of our time, but also poses a risk to companies' performance, brand, and investor returns," said Lamb. "Investors seek to invest in companies that are creating fair, empowered cultures that reap the performance benefits that diversity affords."

Co-filers of the various proposals include Pax World Management (Amazon, eBay), The Sustainability Group (Google), and Proxy Impact (Google). 

 

SOURCE Arjuna Capital, Boston



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