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Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact: JP Morgan, Other Big Banks Using Excuses, Bad Math and “Whataboutism” to Impede Progress on Closing Gender Pay Gap

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Investors push back on false narratives discrediting median pay
figures for women and minorities in advance of US financial, technology
and retail company annual meetings; JP Morgan tells shareholders to
oppose gender pay transparency.

BOSTON & CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Another big bank will send the message to women today that their
concerns don’t matter: When JP Morgan investors assemble today at Chase
Tower in Chicago to attend their annual meeting, management will urge
them to “vote no” on a proposal by Arjuna Capital, asking the company to
publicly disclose its global median gender pay gap, including the risks
posed by gender pay inequity to recruiting and retaining top female
talent. In doing so, Jamie Dimon and other JP Morgan board members will
be following suit with other big banks — including Bank of America,
Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo – in stalling progress toward
closing the pay gaps for women and minorities.

Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact are speaking out today to challenge
misrepresentations of the median pay gap by the banks, and to inform
shareholders at other companies in the tech and retail space that will
vote on the same proposal, including Amazon at its annual meeting
tomorrow.

Arjuna Capital Managing Partner Natasha Lamb said: “We’ve heard a lot
of whataboutism from companies dismissing our proposal on the median
gender pay gap.
Investors aren’t interested in rehashing equal
pay for equal work metrics, we’ve seen those.
We want to
understand the full extent of the gender and racial pay gap, especially
when we see JP Morgan’s median gender pay gap sitting at 26 percent for
its United Kingdom operations. Big banks, tech and retail giants aren’t
going to recruit and retain women simply by claiming to be global
leaders in supporting female employees. We need meaningful disclosures
and action to address hiring problems at the very top. It’s time to stop
this phony median pay narrative.”

Median pay is an unadjusted raw measure used by the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assess not only equal pay
but equal opportunity. Women who work full time in the US make 80 cents
on the dollar versus men on this basis, African American women make 60
cents on the dollar, and Latina women make 55 cents on the dollar. As
such, median pay is literally the definition of the gender pay gap, but
that’s not how it’s being positioned by many of the US companies Arjuna
Capital has approached this year.

At Bank of America’s annual meeting in April, the board recommended that
shareholders vote against Arjuna Capital’s proposal for greater gender
and racial pay transparency. The company’s 2019 Proxy Report argued that
median pay conflates the distinct issues of gender representation and
gender pay equity, forgiving itself for having dramatically fewer women
in senior executive positions in one broad stoke, and rationalizing a
company-wide double-digit gender pay gap with a head-fake.

Michael Passoff, CEO, Proxy Impact: “Bank of America, Wells Fargo,
Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan and other companies facing Arjuna’s
median pay proposal not only deny the validity of the measure, but have
opted to emphasize old reports and practices focused on ‘equal pay for
equal work.’
But equal pay is only half the story and does
nothing to address much larger gaps in median pay resulting from so few
women holding high-paying jobs.”

Today, shareholders at JP Morgan will distract investors with previously
disclosed wage data, falsely claiming that gender pay equity has already
been achieved through equal pay for equal work disclosures.

Global median pay is an accurate way to measure gender equity in the
workplace, as a base line for recruiting and retaining top talent. In no
way does it provide misleading optics about the opportunities available
to employees.

Arjuna Capital encourages investors to closely review how disclosures of
median pay now mandated in the United Kingdom are closing the gender pay
gap at companies obligated to tell the whole story of gender and racial
pay equity. This information is essential to investors in order to
create accountability and drive change toward a more diverse company and
leadership, and therefore better performance.

SHAREHOLDER ACTIVISM BACKGROUND:

Arjuna Capital has filed a total of 46 gender and racial pay proposals
at 23 companies in the tech, financial, and consumer sector. Twenty two
of these companies have committed to disclose and close their pay gaps
on an adjusted equal pay for equal work basis, an important first
step. In 2019, Arjuna is requesting more comprehensive reporting from
the companies, and filed a new proposal with 12 companies requesting unadjusted
global median gender and racial pay gap data, similar to the disclosures
required in the United Kingdom. This evolution is important because
while adjusted data shows if there is equal pay for equal work,
unadjusted median pay data shows if there is equal opportunity to
high-paying jobs.

A recent op-ed published by Lamb describes the importance of this
reporting: https://qz.com/work/1549162/the-median-gender-pay-gap-arjuna-capital-wants-the-data-revealed/

Contacts

Patrick Mitchell for Arjuna Capital at (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com

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