Starbucks in Taipei (Richie Chan/Shutterstock.com)
At its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Starbucks announced that it “has achieved 100 percent pay equity for women and men, and for people of all races, performing similar work in the United States” and expressed a commitment to closing its gender pay gap worldwide as well:
Announced today, Starbucks has committed to achieving and maintaining 100 percent gender pay equity for partners in all company-operated markets globally, setting a new bar for multinational companies. This is an effort supported by equal rights champion Billie Jean King and her Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and leading national women’s organizations, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the American Association of University Women. …
Starbucks has also formulated Pay Equity Principles that led to the successful closure of the pay gap at Starbucks in the United States. Recognizing the importance of this issue for women all around the world, Starbucks is sharing these principles so other companies can follow suit, and address known systemic barriers to global pay equity.
A number of major US companies with multinational reach, including large financial institutions and tech companies, have recently released pay equity audits demonstrating gender and racial pay gaps of 1 percent or less in the US and committing to closing the small gaps that exist. These audits have come in response to pressure from the activist investor Arjuna Capital, which filed shareholder resolutions at a number of large companies requesting them. Arjuna had submitted such a proposal at Starbucks as well, but withdrew it last year after the coffee chain issued a report showing 99.7 percent pay equity between male and female employees performing similar work.
Google announced last week that it had conducted an internal gender pay equity audit and found no statistically significant differences in pay between its male and female employees. The report, however, only covered 89 percent of the company’s global workforce of over 70,000 people, with Google saying it had excluded employees in groups on which it could not perform a rigorous statistical analysis:
Our analyses covered every job group with at least 30 Googlers total and at least five Googlers per demographic group for which we have data (e.g., at least five men and at least five women). These n-count minimums ensure statistical rigor (e.g., higher statistical power, narrower confidence intervals) and allowed us to include 89 percent of Googlers (n=63,153) from entry through executive levels. We did not find statistically significant pay differences for 62,925 Googlers, but did for 228 Googlers across six job groups. We therefore increased compensation for those 228 Googlers, totalling ~$270k USD, before finalizing compensation planning and paying any Googlers.
Like other recent pay equity audits at tech and finance companies, Google’s came in response to a shareholder proposal put forth by the activist fund Arjuna Capital. Yet because 11 percent of the Google community, including executives at the senior vice president level and above, were not accounted for in the study, the investment firm tells Bloomberg that it is unsatisfied with the report and will not withdraw its resolution as it has at other companies that completed gender pay audits:
American Express has joined the ranks of major US financial firms pledging to identify and close gender-based pay disparities within their workforce in response to pressure from the activist investor Arjuna Capital. On Wednesday, the credit card company told employees that its most recent pay analysis, conducting with a third-party consultant, “found no evidence of bias in our compensation processes and indicated we were effectively at parity,” Bloomberg reports. The company also told Arjuna that it would report any findings on pay disparities to its shareholders by the end of 2018:
“Women are still 20 percent more likely to leave a career in finance than any other industry — that’s bad for business and it’s bad for investors,” said Arjuna Capital managing partner Natasha Lamb, who filed a shareholder proposal seeking the pay disclosure at American Express and eight other companies this year. Calling equal pay “a critical first step” to retaining top talent, Arjuna withdrew its proposal in response to AmEx’s pledge.
In her withdrawal letter, Lamb said AmEx’s review will include base, bonus and equity compensation, and the company will adjust pay to get to 100 percent equality. It will also disclose its methodology, according to Lamb.
Bloomberg has compiled data showing that women make up 50 percent of American Express’s workforce but just 30 percent of its management.
Citicorp Headquarters (Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.com)
In response to pressure from activist investors, Citigroup recently conducted a pay survey of its workforce in the US, UK, and Germany, which found very small (1%) pay gaps based on gender and race. In response to these findings, the company announced on Monday that it would adjust salaries to close these gaps, becoming the first major US financial institution to do so, Reuters reports:
On average, Citi found, women and minorities are paid 99 percent of what men and non-minorities are paid, respectively. Compensation would be raised based on the pay gaps identified in the survey, Citi spokeswoman Jennifer Lowney said. …
[Activist investor Arjuna Capital] asked Citi’s shareholders last year to vote in favor of a proposal requiring the bank to address the gender pay gap. But on Monday, Arjuna withdrew that proposal, saying that Citi’s announcement represented a major shift for U.S. banks and credit card companies.
Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers Inc, has been using shareholder resolutions to push for action to address gender pay gaps at a number of large US companies, including other big names in finance and tech. Last year, Arjuna succeeded at pressuring Amazon into conducting a pay gap study, which found that women earned 99.9 cents for every dollar that men earned in the same jobs.
Less than a week after the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected Amazon’s request to omit a shareholder resolution on gender pay equality from its annual ballot, the company has revealed that an analysis of its employee compensation shows no meaningful pay gap between men and women working in the same role, as Reuters reports:
The Seattle-based online retailer disclosed the results of its study after pressure from Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers Inc, which has been pushing it to prepare a report on gender pay equity. Arjuna withdrew its original proposal after Amazon announced the results of its gender pay study on Wednesday. …
Amazon, which estimates that women made up 39 percent of its global workforce and 24 percent of managers as of July, said a review of compensation including both base pay and stock compensation found that women earned 99.9 cents for every dollar that men earned in the same jobs. The survey, which was conducted by an external labor economist, covered Amazon workers at various levels of the company’s organization in the United States. “There will naturally be slight fluctuations from year to year, but at Amazon we are committed to keeping compensation fair and equitable,” the company said in a statement.
But “no pay gap among workers with the same jobs” isn’t the same thing as “no pay gap.” Glassdoor’s latest research, released just yesterday, shows that most of the gender gap is explained by correcting for position, education, industry, and employer, but explaining it doesn’t make it go away: If men make more money than women because they hold more senior or better-compensated positions, the gender equality conversation becomes about why women are underrepresented in those roles, and how to get them there. HR Grapevine highlights another new report from Korn Ferry that focuses on this precise problem:
“I’ve spent a lot of time screaming at the TV because a lot of the analysis and data that is put out there is misleading,” Ben Frost, Global Product Manager at Korn Ferry Hay Group, tells HR Grapevine. “That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a pay gap, but that a lot of the other analysis out there is approaching it from the wrong angle and failing to identify what the issue is and how to solve it.”
Eric Broder Van Dyke/Shutterstock.com
Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers, has been on a campaign to force tech companies to disclose gender gaps in their payrolls by advancing shareholder resolutions to that effect at Microsoft, Facebook, Ebay, and other large, high-profile organizations. When Arjuna submitted such a resolution at Amazon, the company asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to omit the proposal from its annual ballot, arguing that it was too vague and aimed at a problem that doesn’t exist at Amazon. This week, the SEC rejected that argument, Reuters reports: