Six U.S. banks and financial institutions were first targeted for gender pay gap action in 2017. This week, Bank of America (BofA) became the second of the banks to agree to report on and work to close the gender pay gap. In response to BofA’s steps, Arjuna Capital withdrew its gender pay shareholder proposal today, along with co-filer Baldwin Brothers Inc. (1) On January 15th, Citigroup was the first of the six top financial institutions to take such action.
Repeating the sector-specific gender pay equity campaign that led earlier to eight of nine leading U.S. tech firms to act on gender pay equity, Arjuna Capital shifted its focus in 2017 to the banking/financial sector. All of the targeted institutions — Bank of America, MasterCard, American Express, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Citi — rejected proposals in 2017 asking for detailed reports 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.
Arjuna Capital then filed nine gender pay equity shareholder proposals for the 2018 proxy season at leading financial institutions, asking Citibank, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, AmEx, Mastercard, Reinsurance Group, and Progressive Insurance to publish their policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap. With Citi and BofA seizing the inititiative as the first two firms in the sector to act, the question now becomes which of the seven remaining financial institutions will be the laggards on gender pay equity.
The Arjuna Capital gender pay shareholder resolution at Bank of America is available online at: http://bit.ly/2DDHsT0. The letter withdrawing the resolution at BofA is available at: http://bit.ly/2nd8YMP.
Natasha Lamb, managing partner, Arjuna Capital said: “In the wake of Citi’s commitment, Bank of America has now stepped into a leading role to close the gender pay gap. It’s critical that the Big Banks address what has so long been the elephant in the room—whether women and minorities are being treated equitably on Wall Street. So far, we are happy to report the news is good. And Bank of America’s commitment has tipped the scales even further, as peers look for best practices in how to attract and retain top talent. We also expect this will buoy investor support for our shareholder proposals at the other six firms where they will be put to a vote this spring. Investor expectations for equal pay on Wall Street have just ticked up.”
The financial services sector has been under scrutiny for a lack of female representation in senior roles, despite a majority of female employees. In the UK, where employers are required to publish their gender pay gaps by April, banking peers have reported median pay gaps averaging 24 percent.
Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focused on sustainable and impact investing. Lamb and Arjuna Capital have been recognized for using shareholder resolutions to promote gender pay equity in the tech, banking, and retail sectors. Natasha Lamb was named to the “Bloomberg 50” list of influencers who defined global business in 2017. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com.