Three of nine companies facing upcoming investor votes on median pay gap data this proxy season commit to disclosure. Disney fails to block investors from voting on matter.
BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On the eve of Apple’s annual shareholder meeting where Apple’s board is opposing Arjuna Capital’s racial and gender pay equity shareholder proposal, investors applaud Chipotle, Home Depot, and Target for proactively responding to similar shareholder proposals. After successful dialogs, investors have now withdrawn proposals from the ballots of all three companies after they agreed to disclose median pay gap data in 2022.
In the last year, Apple has received significant attention due to employee allegations of pay discrimination and secrecy. An employee-activist group, #Appletoo, was created in the fall to voice concerns of pay gaps, sexism, and racism within the company. Despite these concerns, Apple has opposed investment management firm Arjuna Capital’s request to provide greater transparency into its pay equity efforts by disclosing median racial and gender pay gaps.
In addition to the Apple vote tomorrow, shareholders will have another opportunity to vote on the proposal at Disney’s annual meeting on March 9. Disney was unsuccessful in its appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which attempted to block the proposal from going to a vote of investors. The resolution was filed at Disney as the company has faced allegations of rampant gender pay discrimination for the last three years. Despite employees’ and shareholders’ concerns, Disney has recommended a vote against the proposal.
Arjuna Capital is the lead filer of six shareholder proposals (Apple, Chipotle, Home Depot, Amazon, Lowe’s, and Disney) in the 2022 proxy season requesting median race and gender pay disclosures, and is a co-filer of a proposal at Target, alongside lead-filer Proxy Impact. Proxy Impact has two additional proposals set to go to a vote at Best Buy and Cigna this spring. In November 2021, Arjuna Capital’s and Proxy Impact’s pay gap proposal at Microsoft received a 40% vote of support from investors at its annual meeting and the company committed to disclosure that day.
“Despite Apple’s towering leadership in the tech world, it simply isn’t keeping pace with peers on racial and gender pay gap disclosures,” said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital. “Investors are looking for an honest accounting of pay equity that will strengthen the diversity, talent retention, and brands of Apple and other companies in our portfolios. Microsoft stepped up in December after a strong vote from investors signaled the need for change and we expect Apple to do the same. Other companies “Think Different” on pay equity – now including Microsoft, Chipotle, Home Depot, and Target. It’s time for Apple to catch up and commit to change.”
“Target has taken a leadership role in the retail sector with its commitment to provide a higher level of pay equity data,” said Michael Passoff, CEO at Proxy Impact. “Target has agreed to annually disclose both adjusted and unadjusted median pay gap data by gender and race. This will provide a more detailed look at how the company is meeting its equal pay and equal opportunity goals. None of its top competitors, such as Amazon, Costco, Walmart, or TJX, match this level of reporting.”
Pay inequity persists across race and gender and needs to be actively addressed by companies like Apple, Disney, and others. In the U.S., Black workers’ median earnings represent 64 percent of white workers’ wages. The median income for women working full-time in the United States is 83 percent that of men. To hold companies accountable and improve pay equity, Arjuna Capital has pressed companies to disclose pay equity data through best-practice reporting to its employees and investors.
Best-practice pay equity reporting consists of two important elements: (1) unadjusted median pay gaps, assessing how jobs are distributed by race and gender and which groups hold the high-paying jobs—the data requested by these proposals, and (2) statistically adjusted gaps, assessing pay between minorities and non-minorities, men and women, performing similar roles. While statistically adjusted gaps provide a piece of the story, median pay gaps are a tougher and more revealing standard. Median pay gaps also provide distinct value from representation data alone as they show, quite literally, how the company assigns value to its employees through the roles they inhabit and the pay they receive. Shrinking these gaps is in service to greater diversity, talent retention, and performance.
The three most recent companies committing to median pay gap disclosure—Chipotle, Home Depot, and Target—join an elite group of companies that have made or have committed to making these more detailed pay gap disclosures, including Microsoft, Mastercard, Starbucks, Adobe, Pfizer, Citigroup and Bank of New York Mellon.
Since 2016, Arjuna has compelled gender pay equity disclosures at 22 companies, and racial pay equity disclosures at 17 companies, including leading U.S. tech, finance, and retail firms Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Nike, and Adobe.
ABOUT ARJUNA CAPITAL
Arjuna Capital is a sustainable and impact investment firm that works with high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions to invest their assets with a lens toward Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risk and opportunity. Arjuna Capital has been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote gender and racial pay equity in the tech, banking, and retail sectors. Managing Partner Natasha Lamb was named to the “Bloomberg 50” list of influencers who defined global business in 2017. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com.
Julia Cedarholm, (919)530-1842 or [email protected]