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Investors Pressure Tech Firms on Pay Equity

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3/3/2016

BOSTON -- Which top US technology companies will end up branded as laggards and which will be touted as leaders on gender pay equity reform?

That's a real question since seven of America's best-known technology companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and E-Bay face 2016 proxy season votes and other direct shareholder pressure to follow the lead taken by Intel on February 3rd in announcing that it has achieved 100 percent gender equity on pay. Yesterday, Apple confirmed to concerned shareholders that it is the second major tech company to embrace gender pay equity, with 99.6 percent equal pay.

In addition to its work in encouraging the steps at Intel and Apple, Arjuna Capital, in partnership with Baldwin Brothers Inc., filed seven resolutions at other technology companies asking them to commit to closing the gender pay equity gap. (The move by Apple followed resolutions and shareholder dialogue initiated by Arjuna Capital and Pax World Management.)

The seven tech companies now in the crosshairs on the gender pay equity issue are: E-Bay (vote scheduled for May); Amazon (now opposing resolution at the US Securities and Exchange Commission); Expedia (vote scheduled for June); Google (vote scheduled for June); Adobe (dialogue with company now underway); Facebook (vote scheduled for June); and Microsoft (resolution now being filed ahead of shareholder meeting in December).

A link to a representative shareholder resolution (Facebook) is available at: http://www.arjuna-capital.com/sites/default/files/FB%20Shareholder%20Proposal_Gender%20Pay%20Equity_0.pdf.

Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement, at Arjuna Capital applauded Intel's leadership:"The excellent moves by Intel and now Apple on gender pay equity means that the clock is ticking for the rest of America's major technology companies. Silicon Valley can no longer claim this is an issue unworthy of its attention. Gender pay equity is critical to creating a diverse and innovative workforce and tech companies cannot sit this discussion out they have to speak up for fair pay. Soon we will see which companies join Intel and Apple as leaders and which end up tagged as laggards on paying women a fair wage. Now, the big question is: Can you be an Amazon, or an E-Bay, or a Google, or a Microsoft and be pegged as the last major tech company to take action on gender pay equity?"

Lamb said: "Gender pay equity is good for technology companies, it is good for its workers, and it is good for shareholders. A commitment to gender pay equity is essential to driving innovation and performance in Silicon Valley and the rest of the tech world. It's not simply a question of fairness; it is a question of breaking down the structural bias that keeps women in the back seat and business from reaching its full potential."

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