Silicon Valley is notoriously a less than level playing field for women. But beginning in 2015, activist investor Natasha Lamb of Arjuna Capital led a successful shareholder campaign to change that landscape, pressuring nine tech companies — Adobe, Amazon, Apple, eBay, Expedia, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Texas Instruments — to upgrade their standards and be more transparent on gender pay disparity in the workplace. Texas Instruments was added to the campaign in 2018, and on March 15, 2018 disclosed wage data and its intent to close its pay gap. Facebook remained a holdout until July 12, 2018, when the social media giant published its annual diversity report, laying claim to full gender pay equity since 2014. Arjuna Capital applauded the disclosure, and tempered the announcement with calls for on-going engagement with Facebook that will continue to seek greater transparency.
Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital and lead-filer of the gender pay shareholder proposals in the tech space, said: “After 3 years of engagement with Arjuna Capital, Facebook has finally published quantitative data as it relates to gender pay equity. We applaud the company, as it moves beyond lip service to a transparent accounting of how women are paid on an equal pay for equal work basis. There is still work to be done and the next step is for Facebook to publish the company’s median gender pay and racial pay gaps. We look forward to a continued and more productive engagement going forward.”
For the first time, Facebook’s Annual Diversity Report commits to the number “100 percent” on gender pay equity, dating back to 2014.
In an email to Arjuna Capital dated July 12, 2018, Facebook cited “a summary of the gender pay news here and the full report here.” Facebook Executive Vanessa Chan said: “As we’ve discussed, this is an important issue for us, as is diversity more broadly. There is clearly more to do, but I want to make sure you saw that we took your feedback re necessary clarity to heart.”
In 2018, Arjuna Capital continued to fight for gender pay equity by filing nine gender pay shareholder proposals at leading financial institutions: Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, American Express, Mastercard, Reinsurance Group, and Progressive Insurance. In the first four months of 2018, all nine responded positively to the engagement and made public announcements to close their gender pay gaps.
In the retail sector, Arjuna Capital has filed five gender pay equity proposals: at Amazon, Nike, Starbucks, Costco, and Walmart. All but Walmart were withdrawn for company commitments and equal pay disclosures. Walmart has sought to exclude the proposal from going to a vote for the last two years by appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission due to its gender pay litigation.
In April 2018, Arjuna Capital published a report, The Gender Pay Scorecard (GPS), which examines equal pay at some of the world’s largest corporations, and serves as a guide to navigate which companies are taking a leadership role on transparent disclosures in the US, UK, and globally. With a heavy emphasis on quantitative reporting, versus qualitative assurances, GPS scores companies based on performance, commitments to report annually, coverage, and goals for achieving 100 percent pay equity.
The full text of the gender pay shareholder proposal, co-filed by Baldwin Brothers, Inc., and submitted to Facebook for its 2018 annual meeting is available online here.