On Thursday, April 26th, UK financial services firm, Schroders, held their annual meeting, wherein a representative from ShareAction, a shareholder advocacy group, grilled CEO Peter Harrison about the company’s gender pay practices. This is in the aftermath of their UK-mandated gender pay disparity disclosure, which revealed a 27% mean pay gap (expressed as % higher pay for males) and a 29% median pay gap. In addition, results showed a skewed proportion of women on management teams compared to the 53% of females in the bottom quartile of employees.
Spurred on by front-page gender discrimination litigation at Alphabet and Oracle, increasingly, publicly-held firms (especially in IT and financial services) are either receiving this gender pay resolution from shareholders, voluntarily undertaking a pay gap analysis as Salesforce.com did or starting to roll out their federal EEO-1 workforce demographic stats on their websites.
This comes at a time when, not only in Europe, but in the US, the issue of gender pay and diversity is becoming increasingly contentious. While “blue chip” boards in the US and Europe are making strides toward improving board gender diversity, activists like ShareAction are aiming focus elsewhere in companies other than the board level (i.e., leadership and C-Suite diversity). Last year, five S&P 100 banks that received the gender pay shareholder proposal disclosed an average of 55% female global employees, 30% female global leadership, 22% female named executive officers and 27% females in board seats. Schroders, interestingly, voted FOR 18% of shareholder proposals calling for an evaluation of gender pay discrepancies at US firms last year.
The CGIC is set to release an analysis of the gender pay gap proposal in 2017. Please contact Dave Bobker with inquiries regarding this study.