Investors pressure companies over fair pay, paid leave
- In a letter to Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, investment managing firm Arjuna Capital requested that the tech giant disclose its records on pay levels for women and men, Bloomberg reports. Natasha Lamb, an Arjuna managing partner, signed the letter, which also asked Google how it came up with the claim that its female employees earn 99.7 cents of every dollar male workers earn – a claim seemingly refuted by an in-house spreadsheet that ex-Google employees made public via a New York Times article.
- Arjuna is but one of a group of investors who want to end inequality in pay and paid leave policies, according to Bloomberg. Through a shareholder proposal, Zevin Asset Management asked Starbucks Corp. for a report on its new paid-leave policy, which Zevin says denies the same benefits to fathers, adoptive parents and mothers working outside the corporate office.
- According to The Guardian, investor firms are using shareholder resolutions to put pressure on companies whose pay and paid leave policies are potentially discriminatory.
Shareholders may be hoping they can bring about more equitable pay and leave policies, but it remains to be seen whether their actions will work. Transparency around pay, especially, may be a long way off — even if states are increasingly trying to pass laws about pay policies.
Companies that don’t embrace equitable pay and paid leave policies, however, put themselves at risk. Many companies are facing this allegation in court right now. Former employees at Oracle are suing the tech company for pay discrimination. Google, and JP Morgan are facing pay and leave suits, respectively.
One company, Salesforce, has taken a proactive approach, recently making headlines for spending $6 million to close its pay gap. If anything, recent shareholder attention on these issues may signal the growing threat these problems hold for companies, both financially and to the brand. More employers are being called on to improve their diversity; those that don't rise to the occasion may face future talent problems of another sort.