Gender Pay Equity: Costco latest retail giant to take action, following leads of Starbucks, Nike, and Gap

Shareholders Withdraw Proposal After Largest Membership-Only Warehouse Club Agrees to Report on Pay Gap between Male and Female Employees.

 

BOSTON (November 16, 2017) – Following the examples of retailers Starbucks, Nike, and The Gap, Costco is taking public steps to be more transparent with investors about its gender pay gap. In response, Arjuna Capital announced today that it has withdrawn a shareholder resolution, co-filed with Zevin Asset Management, calling on Costco to produce a detailed report on measures to help achieve gender pay equity.

Costco said it would provide wage data by the end of 2018 relating to the percentage of pay earned by Costco’s female compared to its male employees, including information on the various components of compensation (salary, bonus, and equity components). Fortune reports female salespersons make 70.3% of the wage of their male counterparts in the retail industry. Retail is notorious for being dominated by men in management positions, while women are relegated to low-paying frontline jobs.

Available at http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/AC_Costco-Withdrawal-Letter_11.15.17.pdf, the Arjuna Capital letter to Costco states: “Arjuna Capital is pleased to withdraw the shareholder proposal submitted to Costco Wholesale Corporation on May 4th, 2017 regarding gender pay equity… We commend the actions that Costco has already taken toward creating an inclusive and diverse culture and workplace, and are excited that Costco has agreed to take the next step in sharing this information with its shareholders.” The proposal is available here: http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/AC_COST-Shareholder-Proposal-Gender-Pay-Equity_11-2017.pdf

At Costco, approximately 43 percent of employees are women and 53 percent are sales workers, but women account for only 3 percent of executive leadership and senior level managers, and 31 percent of first and mid-level managers.

Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said: “The number of big retailers taking proactive steps to address the gender pay gap is growing, but still too small. The retail sector ranks eighth worst in terms of woman making less than men. That is why Costco and other companies stepping into leadership on gender pay equity must be commended and held up as examples. In addition to Costco’s strong commitment on gender pay, we encourage the Company to provide disclosures across race and ethnicity; consider reporting on various levels of seniority: including entry, mid, and senior level; and include information outlining the methodology employed in the analysis.”

In April of this year, Arjuna Capital withdrew a similar gender pay equity shareholder proposal targeting Nike. Arjuna and co-lead-filer Baldwin Brothers agreed to pull the proposal from Nike after the company committed to release data showing the pay gap for Nike’s female employees including base salary, bonus, and long-term equity incentives. In January, Arjuna withdrew a gender pay gap proposal at Starbucks, which disclosed: “Male and female partners who perform similar work are paid within 99.7 percent of each other. We examine each component of compensation including base pay, bonus, and stock, and we work to correct unexplained, gender-based differences.”

Lamb added: “In 2014, Gap Inc. made history by becoming the first Fortune 500 Company to publicly confirm it pays men and women equally for equal work. Nike, Starbucks, and Costco are making similar strides on gender pay equity, but more work remains to achieve true gender equity across the industry.”

Arjuna Capital is a national leader in shareholder advocacy on the gender pay equity issue. Arjuna Capital spearheaded a successful 2015-2017 campaign to get eight out of nine US tech giants, including eBay, Apple, and Intel to commit to disclose and close the gender pay gap. An Arjuna Capital campaign targeting the U.S. financial sector—including leading banks and credit card companies—is ongoing.

2016 marked the first year since the financial crisis that the gender pay gap has narrowed in U.S. The median income for women working full time in the United States is reported to be 80 percent of that of their male counterparts. This $10,470 annual disparity can add up to nearly half a million dollars over a career. The gap for African America and Latina women is 60 percent and 55 percent respectively. At the current rate, women will not reach pay parity until 2059.


Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focused on sustainable and impact investing. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com.

CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.

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