US tech giants face activist shareholders over gender pay disclosures

Despite progressive goals, leading tech firms have been dragging their feet over detailed reporting on gender and race pay gaps. Shareholder resolutions could force them to comply.

Gender gap, inequality and broken communication concept. Business man and woman separated from each other by a wall

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Top US tech companies will face shareholder resolutions seeking detailed disclosures on gender and racial pay differences following poor progress in shrinking the income gaps within their organizations.

Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact released its third annual Gender Pay Scorecard report earlier this week. It tracks 50 major US corporations. Only three companies received an "A" grade: Citigroup, Mastercard, and Starbucks.

Oracle received a failing grade of "F" along with Verizon, AT&T, Qualcomm, and Analog Devices.

A "B" grade was given to Intel and Apple and eight other, for their efforts to disclose and work on eliminating gender and racial pay differences. A "C" grade was given to Adobe, Alphabet/Google, Expedia, Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments. Hewlett-Packard earned a "D".

In addition to poor progress, there is a lack of detailed information released by the 50 corporations, which has prompted Proxy Impact to prepare 16 shareholder resolutions to force disclosure of the additional data.  

"The only question now is which among America's leading companies will be leaders and which will continue to be laggards on gender and racial pay equity," said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna. "It's time for companies to stop dragging their feet on pay equity and step up to provide meaningful, transparent disclosures."

Tech companies facing activist resolutions in 2020 on this issue are: Adobe, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft. The goal is to have the same disclosures made by UK companies -- a much stricter standard of reporting employee salaries.

Major US firms have resisted such disclosures. However, there is rising support among their shareholders. A Microsoft shareholder resolution filed by Arjuna and Proxy Impact received nearly 30% of support from investors, representing about $240 billion in share value.