Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Investor Hopes Sunshine Will Shrink the Gender Pay Gap

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Investor Hopes Sunshine Will Shrink the Gender Pay Gap

Article excerpt

What gets measured gets managed.

That maxim, often attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, gets repeated as gospel in boardrooms and business schools. Now, activist investors are trying to harness its wisdom to shrink the gender pay gap.

Across the U.S. economy, women earn roughly 80 percent as much as men. A generation's worth of social activism and consciousness-raising has done little to raise that figure.

Arjuna Capital, a Boston-area investment firm, figures sunlight might do more. It targeted 12 major companies this spring with proposals asking them to disclose the difference in median pay between their male and female employees.

Arjuna and other investors have already succeeded in getting about two dozen firms to calculate pay differences for men and women doing the same work. Those disclosures have been surprisingly uniform: Companies from Amazon to Starbucks to Mastercard all say their women employees earn 99 to 100 percent as much as men in the same job.

Reinsurance Group of America, based in Chesterfield, was one of the companies that agreed last year to report on pay equity. It says women earn 99.4 percent as much as men, and nonwhites earn 99.5 percent as much as whites, when comparing similar roles.

Now, Arjuna wants more information. A companywide pay gap number, it says, would show whether women are being promoted as often as men, or whether glass ceilings remain in place.

Citigroup, one of the companies the firm targeted, agreed to disclose the number: It said in January that the median woman in its global organization earns 71 percent as much as the median man. Citigroup promised "senior-level accountability" for efforts to move more women and minorities into leadership roles.

Eleven other big companies are resisting Arjuna's campaign, but the effort is gaining momentum. Its nonbinding resolutions won 33 percent approval from shareholders at Adobe, 25 percent at Bank of New York Mellon and 23 percent each at Bank of America and Wells Fargo. …

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