Rare majority vote received on Arjuna’s shareholder proposal just weeks after Disney tried unsuccessfully to block the proposal from going to a vote of investors
BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A 59% majority of Disney shareholders approved a shareholder proposal today brought forth by investment management firm Arjuna Capital, asking the company to transparently report on racial and gender pay gaps. The vote comes weeks after Disney was unsuccessful in its appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to block the proposal from going to a vote. The vote highlights the material importance of human capital management to institutional investors: the “S” in ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing.
Following various allegations of gender pay discrimination and an ensuing class action lawsuit, Arjuna Capital filed the proposal calling on Disney to release a report on “both median and adjusted pay gaps across race and gender, including associated policy, reputational, competitive, and operational risks, and risks related to recruiting and retaining diverse talent.”
Ahead of the annual meeting, Disney aggressively appealed to the SEC requesting relief from a shareholder vote by alleging it would impact its ongoing class action litigation. After the SEC denied the request, 59% of Disney shareholders signaled the importance of ensuring pay equity by disclosing racial and gender pay gaps. Disney did not provide a response to the investor vote on the proposal during the annual meeting.
“Disney can no longer ignore the calls coming from investors and employees alike to address racial and gender pay equity at the company,” said Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner at Arjuna Capital. “A majority vote is a striking call to action and continuing with a strategy of lip service isn’t going to cut it. It’s time Disney put its money where its mouth is.”
In response to the gender pay discrimination class action, Disney responded that it is “firmly committed to equitable pay.” Yet, the company has failed to offer any further transparency. Pay transparency reporting is increasingly becoming a common disclosure across large companies as pay inequity persists across race and gender. In the U.S., Black workers’ median earnings represent 64 percent of white workers’ earnings and women’s earnings represent 83 percent of men’s earnings. Shrinking these gaps is in service to greater diversity, talent retention, and performance.
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. Chipotle, Home Depot, and Target have now all agreed to publish the data requested in exchange for a withdrawal of the proposal. 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.
Arjuna Capital presses companies to disclose pay equity data through best-practice reporting consisting 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 this proposal, 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.
Since 2016, Arjuna has compelled racial and/or gender pay equity disclosures at 25 companies, including leading U.S. tech, finance, and retail firms Starbucks, Microsoft, Google, Citigroup, and Adobe.
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. Natasha Lamb and Arjuna Capital have been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote gender and racial pay equity in the tech, banking, and retail sectors. 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]