Google gen­der pay re­port re­jected

Share­hold­ers of par­ent Al­pha­bet vote down pro­posal to look at pos­si­ble dis­par­i­ties.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Hamza Sha­ban Sha­ban writes for the Wash­ing­ton Post

For the sec­ond year in a row, share­hold­ers of Al­pha­bet, the par­ent com­pany of Google, voted down a pro­posal ask­ing the tech giant to pub­lish a re­port on pos­si­ble pay dis­par­i­ties be­tween its male and fe­male em­ploy­ees.

The vote comes at a time when the com­pany is grappling with a fed­eral law­suit tied to this is­sue and as the tech in­dus­try faces height­ened scru­tiny over com­pen­sa­tion in­equities, a lack of di­ver­sity and dys­func­tional work en­vi­ron­ments.

Un­der the pro­posal, the com­pany would mea­sure and dis­close how much its fe­male em­ploy­ees make as a per­cent­age of their male coun­ter­parts’ pay. The plan, put for­ward by Ar­juna Cap­i­tal, an in­vest­ment firm, and oth­ers also called for the com­pany to de­sign a pol­icy to tackle any gen­der pay dis­par­ity.

“Gen­der pay dis­par­ity is not only one of the big­gest so­cial jus­tice is­sues of our time, it poses a risk to com­pa­nies’ per­for­mance, brand, and in­vestor re­turns,” said Natasha Lamb, Ar­juna’s di­rec­tor of share­holder en­gage­ment, at the share­holder meet­ing. “This is­sue is par­tic­u­larly salient to the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, which strug­gles to at­tract, re­tain and move women into po­si­tions of lead­er­ship.”

The board of di­rec­tors told share­hold­ers that ap­prov­ing the pro­posal would not be in the best in­ter­est of the com­pany or its in­vestors, ac­cord­ing to Al­pha­bet’s 2017 state­ment to stock­hold­ers. Man­age­ment pointed to Google’s ex­ist­ing di­ver­sity re­ports and in­ter­nal eval­u­a­tions as suf­fi­cient mea­sures to en­sure pay eq­uity among its staff. “Our board of di­rec­tors does not be­lieve that the pro­posal would en­hance Al­pha­bet’s ex­ist­ing com­mit­ment to fos­ter­ing a fair and in­clu­sive cul­ture,” the state­ment said.

Like many of its peers in the tech in­dus­try, Google pro­duces an an­nual re­port out­lin­ing the gen­der and eth­nic makeup of its em­ploy­ees. The vast ma­jor­ity of Al­pha­bet’s em­ploy­ees work for Google. But the re­port doesn’t out­line gen­der pay dis­par­i­ties. Of the com­pany’s global em­ploy­ees, 69% are male and 31% are fe­male, ac­cord­ing to Google’ 2016 di­ver­sity re­port, which cap­tured data from the pre­vi­ous year. But it’s un­clear how much women em­ploy­ees are paid rel­a­tive to the men.

Ap­ple, Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft have all re­ported on gen­der pay dis­par­ity at their com­pa­nies, with each claim­ing a dis­crep­ancy near zero. Lamb de­scribed Al­pha­bet as a lag­gard com­pared to its peers when it comes to trans­parency over gen­der pay.

Al­pha­bet de­clined to com­ment.

Ar­juna Cap­i­tal’s push for Al­pha­bet to re­lease its gen­der pay in­for­ma­tion is part of a broader cam­paign to ad­dress en­dur­ing gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion in the Amer­i­can work­place. Within Sil­i­con Val­ley, calls for im­prov­ing di­ver­sity have only grown louder as yearly em­ploy­ment re­ports con­tinue to show lead­er­ship teams be­ing dom­i­nated by men.

Google is cur­rently fac­ing a law­suit from the La­bor Depart­ment re­lated to un­fair gen­der pay. The La­bor Depart­ment filed the law­suit in Jan­uary af­ter the Moun­tain View, Calif., com­pany re­fused to turn over com­pen­sa­tion data as part of a “rou­tine com­pli­ance eval­u­a­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a La­bor Depart­ment state­ment re­leased in the same month. La­bor Depart­ment lawyers have ac­cused Al­pha­bet of un­der­pay­ing women, find­ing ev­i­dence of “ex­treme” gen­der pay dis­crim­i­na­tion.

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