Arjuna Capital asks 11 banks and tech companies to disclose pay gaps
- The activist investment group Arjuna Capital has called on 11 top banks and tech companies to disclose their "median" or global percentage gender pay gaps to investors. Arjuna, a shareholder advocate, filed median gender pay gap proposals with Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Facebook, Google, Intel, JPMorgan, Mastercard and Wells Fargo. Arjuna announced the proposal at a news conference that included the Equal Rights Advocates and Closing the Women's Wealth Gap Initiative.
- In January, Citigroup announced its median company wide gender pay gap stands at 29%, Arjuna said in a press release. The bank's global median gender pay gap includes gender and racial disparities and accounts for base pay, bonuses and equity compensation. Arjuna said this unadjusted figure contrasts with the bank's earlier pay-gap disclosure that put women's earnings at 99% of men's when adjusted on a "equal pay for equal work" scale.
- Citing data from the World Economic Forum, Arjuna said the gender pay gap costs the economy an estimated $1.2 trillion a year. The median income for women working full-time in the U.S. remains at 80% of men's, a disparity which Arjuna said can amount to nearly half a million dollars in lost wages during a career. The income gap for African-American and Latina women is even wider, at 60% and 55%, respectively. According to Arjuna, women won't reach pay parity until 2059 at the current rate.
An ADP report released in December predicted companies will continue to feel the pressure to correct gender pay gaps in 2019. And while it seems Arjuna intends to help fulfill ADP's prophecy, this is not the first move Arjuna has made to prompt pay gap correction. JPMorgan Chase agreed to close pay gaps for women and nonwhite workers following prompts from Arjuna and joined the ranks of others that had done so last year, including Bank of America, Mastercard, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of New York Mellon.
Investors recognize diversity and inclusion — which pay equity makes possible — can bolster innovation and a business's fiscal performance. As Arjuna pointed out, pay inequity is not only fiscally damaging for women, but it suppresses the economy. Heather McCulloch, founder and executive director of Closing the Women's Wealth Gap Initiative, addressed the impact of the pay gap on women in a statement: "Closing the pay gap is critical to the economic security of women, their families, their communities … and the national economy. Women, and especially women of color, are more likely to be the sole, primary or co-breadwinners in their households than ever before," she said. "Taking steps to increase opportunities for them to thrive in the workplace is in everyone's interest."
The date by which the gender pay gap is estimated to close is a sobering distance. But based on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, it will take a staggering 108 years to close the pay gap.