Arjuna Capital Campaign Targeting 6 Banks, Credit Card Companies Now in High Gear; “Disappointing Flip Flop” by Top Advisory Firm ISS Likely to Depress Votes, But Shareholder Advocate Fights On.
BOSTON///April 25, 2017/// Key shareholder votes take place today at Wells Fargo and Citigroup and tomorrow at Bank of America as the nation’s largest banks and credit card companies are pressed to disclose and close their gender pay gaps. The three votes this week are part of a major push by Arjuna Capital targeting top financial institutions, in partnership with Baldwin Brothers at Bank of America.
Unlike nearly all of the top tech companies that were the focus of the 2016 shareholder push by Arjuna Capital, America’s top banks and credit card companies are refusing to respond to concerns about their gender equity disparities.
Wells Fargo holds its 2017 annual meeting of stockholders today in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. At the Wells Fargo annual meeting, the gender pay resolution is #8. A letter urging Wells Fargo shareholders to vote in favor of the resolution is located here: http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/WFC-Gender-Pay-Gap-Shareholder-Letter-4_2017.pdf.
Citigroup Inc.’s annual meeting also takes place today in New York City. At the Citi annual meeting, the gender pay resolution vote is #5. A letter urging Citi shareholders to vote in favor of the gender pay resolution can be found here: http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/C-Gender-Pay-Gap-Shareholder-Letter-4_2016.pdf.
The 2017 Bank of America annual meeting will be held tomorrow 10:00 a.m. ET in Charlotte, N.C. At the Bank of America meeting, the Arjuna Capital vote will be resolution #8. To access a letter urging BAC shareholder to vote in favor of the resolution, go to: http://arjuna-capital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/BAC-Gender-Pay-Gap-Shareholder-Letter-4_2017.pdf
The other three top US financial institutions facing Arjuna Capital resolutions are JP Morgan, MasterCard, and American Express.
What do concerned shareholders want from the six top financial institutions?
The resolution opposed by Wells Fargo asks for a report from the bank on the percentage pay gap between male and female employees across race and ethnicity, including base, bonus and equity compensation, policies to address that gap, the methodology used, and quantitative reduction targets. In contrast to the Wells Fargo board’s opposition, Wells Fargo’s own global head of research, economics and strategy told Bloomberg TV this week that “Shareholders can hold and should hold companies accountable” on the gender pay gap, referencing the companies Arjuna engaged last spring.
In its particularly tone-deaf response opposing shareholder concerns about gender pay disparities, Citi actually claims gender pay gap reporting would be “costly and time consuming.”
Natasha Lamb, managing partner, lead filer of gender pay resolutions, Arjuna Capital, said: “Women executives leave finance careers more than careers in any other industry. So why aren’t the Big Banks scrambling to address root causes like the gender pay gap? We know attracting and retaining top talent, including women should be a first order priority, but Wall Street continues to boast one of the highest pay and leadership gaps in the country. That gender gap is simply bad for business. Investors are looking for transparency and accountability, like that we have seen from the tech sector. Yet, bizarrely Wall Street seems be held to a lower standard than Silicon Valley. Are we closing the gap on the West Coast, but too old school back East to stand up for women’s rights?”
Arjuna Capital is raising public concerns about what it terms the “disappointing flip flop” by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a proposal advisory service, which is not taking the same line on banks that it took on tech companies in 2016. In an inexplicable reversal from just last year, when ISS supported a similar Arjuna Capital gender pay resolution at eBay (which garnered a majority vote), Facebook, and Alphabet (Google), ISS will not support what are essentially the same resolutions filed this year at top banks and credit card companies.
This move by the world’s largest investment advisory service virtually guarantees the vote totals will be lower at the big banks on Arjuna’s gender pay resolution.
Data show that closing the gender pay gap is good for investors. In 2016, the proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis supported Arjuna’s gender pay proposals. During that campaign focused on tech companies, ISS noted: Companies that don’t address gender pay disparity are “put at a competitive disadvantage in the recruitment of candidates and retention of employees.” This is particularly important for an investor in banks, as Mercer finds female executives are 20-30 percent more likely to leave financial services careers than other careers.
Finance is a heavily male dominated field with a high pay gap and another distinct gap when it comes to female leadership. In fact, banking and finance have one of the highest disparities of all industries examined by Glassdoor. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal female financial advisors faced a 61.3 percent pay gap in 2014, the widest disparity of all occupations reviewed.
More information about the Arjuna Capital gender pay campaign in the banking sector, along with a streaming audio recording of a phone-based news conference highlighting the shareholder resolutions, can be found at http://arjuna-capital.com/news/.
ABOUT ARJUNA CAPITAL
Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focusing on sustainable and impact investing. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or [email protected]
Image provided courtesy of the Hastings Group.