Los Angeles Times

Google gender pay report rejected

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

- 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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States