Three-year Shareholder Engagement with Google Not Over Yet; New Salary Data Shows “Serious Commitment to Disclosure” After 2017 Federal Allegation Of “Extreme” Gender Disparity
BOSTON (March 15, 2018) – One of the world’s largest publicly traded companies, Alphabet (parent of the Google search engine) is finally taking steps to close its gender pay gap. Arjuna Capital and gender pay co-filers, Proxy Impact and Baldwin Brothers, Inc., today applauded Google’s disclosure of new wage data showing a 0 (zero) percent statistically significant gender pay gap for 89 percent of its employees worldwide. The announcement expresses a public commitment previously unseen from Google to eliminate gender pay disparity within it ranks. While acknowledging the importance of this step, Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact will not withdraw its shareholder proposal at Google
In 2016, seven of nine top US tech companies responded to shareholder pressure from Arjuna Capital, disclosing their gender pay gaps and making major progress on pay equity. But Alphabet/Google – was one of two holdouts, and has been largely inflexible on the issue.
The new salary data and Google’s willingness to disclose the information publicly represents a sea change at the company, which the U.S. Department of Labor cited for “extreme” and “systemic” gender pay equity disparities in 2017. Still, shareholder activists leading gender pay engagements find the analysis incomplete. Specifically, the gender pay gap findings are limited to job categories with 30 or more employees, at least five men, and at least five women. In addition, the data only extends to VP level because employees above that pay grade do not fit the criteria. Therefore, Google’s gender pay gap analysis leaves 11 percent of employees out.
Google’s public announcement regarding its new gender pay analysis is available at: https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/googles-commitment-to-fair-and-equitable-pay-2018/.
Natasha Lamb, managing partner, lead filer of gender pay resolutions, Arjuna Capital, said: “Today’s announcement represents a serious first step toward ensuring gender pay equity at Google. Still, we find ourselves uncomfortable with its lack of breadth. Make no mistake: We are eager to withdraw our shareholder proposal at Google, but are concerned that 11 percent of Google employees are left out of the analysis published today. We think there is room for improvement and can’t give a rubber stamp to an incomplete analysis. For instance, disclosure of the company’s median wage gap, like that being disclosed for Google’s UK operations by April, would give shareholders a more complete understanding of the issue. That said, Google’s announcement is progress in the right direction.”
In an open letter to Eric Schmidt in September 2017 (http://bit.ly/ArjunaGoogle), Lamb expressed concerns regarding the company’s management of gender pay equity. In the wake of an employee-led salary data leak and DOJ investigation, Lamb noted the company relied on platitudes such as there is no gap, followed by a semi-transparent accounting of gender pay. And while last year Google claimed women make 99.7 cents for every dollar a man makes, the analysis did not cover 100% of the employee base. Even today’s analysis excludes 11 percent of workers and C-suite managers/owners.
Michael Passoff, CEO, Proxy Impact and Google resolution co-filer said: “Google’s massive size and influence doesn’t make it invulnerable to shareholder pressure. That’s why it’s important that we don’t walk away until we have the same commitments that other companies have taken to fully address gender pay equity.”
Google is poised to become the eighth of ten major U.S. tech companies targeted by shareholders since 2016 to move on gender pay. Arjuna Capital led the successful campaign, which pressured seven tech companies — eBay, Intel, Apple, Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft and Adobe — to upgrade their standards and transparency on gender pay disparity in the workplace. Facebook remains a holdout.
More recently, since January 15, 2018, Arjuna Capital led a similar campaign on Wall Street to influence seven top banks and credit card companies to close their gender pay gaps: Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan, MasterCard and American Express.
Arjuna Capital’s gender pay shareholder proposal at Google is available at: https://arjuna-capital.sharefile.com/share/view/s1af364455f943a58.
Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focused on sustainable and impact investing. www.Arjuna-Capital.com.
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or [email protected]