PRESS RELEASE: Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact: JP Morgan, Other Big Banks Using Excuses, Bad Math and “Whataboutism” to Impede Progress on Closing Gender Pay Gap

Investors push back on false narratives discrediting median pay figures for women and minorities in advance of US financial, technology and retail company annual meetings; JP Morgan tells shareholders to oppose gender pay transparency.

BOSTON AND CHICAGO (May 21, 2019) – Another big bank will send the message to women today that their concerns don’t matter:  When JP Morgan investors assemble today at Chase Tower in Chicago to attend their annual meeting, management will urge them to “vote no” on a proposal by Arjuna Capital, asking the company to publicly disclose its global median gender pay gap, including the risks posed by gender pay inequity to recruiting and retaining top female talent.  In doing so, Jamie Dimon and other JP Morgan board members will be following suit with other big banks —  including Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo – in stalling progress toward closing the pay gaps for women and minorities.  

Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact are speaking out today to challenge misrepresentations of the median pay gap by the banks, and to inform shareholders at other companies in the tech and retail space that will vote on the same proposal, including Amazon at its annual meeting tomorrow.

Arjuna Capital Managing Partner Natasha Lamb said: “We’ve heard a lot of whataboutism from companies dismissing our proposal on the median gender pay gap.  Investors aren’t interested in rehashing equal pay for equal work metrics, we’ve seen those.  We want to understand the full extent of the gender and racial pay gap, especially when we see JP Morgan’s median gender pay gap sitting at 26 percent for its United Kingdom operations. Big banks, tech and retail giants aren’t going to recruit and retain women simply by claiming to be global leaders in supporting female employees. We need meaningful disclosures and action to address hiring problems at the very top. It’s time to stop this phony median pay narrative.”

Median pay is an unadjusted raw measure used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assess not only equal pay but equal opportunity. Women who work full time in the US make 80 cents on the dollar versus men on this basis, African American women make 60 cents on the dollar, and Latina women make 55 cents on the dollar. As such, median pay is literally the definition of the gender pay gap, but that’s not how it’s being positioned by many of the US companies Arjuna Capital has approached this year.

At Bank of America’s annual meeting in April, the board recommended that shareholders vote against Arjuna Capital’s proposal for greater gender and racial pay transparency. The company’s 2019 Proxy Report argued that median pay conflates the distinct issues of gender representation and gender pay equity, forgiving itself for having dramatically fewer women in senior executive positions in one broad stoke, and rationalizing a company-wide double-digit gender pay gap with a head-fake. 

Michael Passoff, CEO, Proxy Impact:  Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan and other companies facing Arjuna’s median pay proposal not only deny the validity of the measure, but have opted to emphasize old reports and practices focused on “equal pay for equal work.”  But equal pay is only half the story and does nothing to address much larger gaps in median pay resulting from so few women holding high-paying jobs.”

Today, shareholders at JP Morgan will distract investors with previously disclosed wage data, falsely claiming that gender pay equity has already been achieved through equal pay for equal work disclosures. 

Global median pay is an accurate way to measure gender equity in the workplace, as a base line for recruiting and retaining top talent. In no way does it provide misleading optics about the opportunities available to employees.

Arjuna Capital encourages investors to closely review how disclosures of median pay now mandated in the United Kingdom are closing the gender pay gap at companies obligated to tell the whole story of gender and racial pay equity. This information is essential to investors in order to create accountability and drive change toward a more diverse company and leadership, and therefore better performance. 

SHAREHOLDER ACTIVISM BACKGROUND:

Arjuna Capital has filed a total of 46 gender and racial pay proposals at 23 companies in the tech, financial, and consumer sector.  Twenty two of these companies have committed to disclose and close their pay gaps on an adjusted equal pay for equal work basis, an important first step.  In 2019, Arjuna is requesting more comprehensive reporting from the companies, and filed a new proposal with 12 companies requesting unadjusted global median gender and racial pay gap data, similar to the disclosures required in the United Kingdom.  This evolution is important because while adjusted data shows if there is equal pay for equal work, unadjusted median pay data shows if there is equal opportunity to high-paying jobs.

A recent op-ed published by Lamb describes the importance of this reporting: https://qz.com/work/1549162/the-median-gender-pay-gap-arjuna-capital-wants-the-data-revealed/

CONTACT:  Patrick Mitchell for Arjuna Capital at (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.

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