Amazon Should Allow Shareholder Vote On Gender Pay, SEC Says

Ruling comes as tech industry faces scrutiny over equality issues.

Amazon Should Allow Shareholder Vote On Gender Pay, SEC Says
[Photo: Flickr user Scott Lewis]

The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that Amazon should allow a shareholder vote to proceed that calls for an October deadline for Amazon to report the pay gap differences between female and male workers, and the plans it has to close that gap, according to Reuters.

The proposal was brought by shareholder Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers, but it was rejected by Amazon as being “so inherently vague or indefinite” it would impede implementation. Amazon sought permission from the SEC to omit the proposal, but on Thursday the SEC rejected that request saying it did not agree with Amazon’s assertion of the proposal.

Amazon wasn’t the only tech company targeted by Arjuna Capital with a gender pay gap proposal. The company sent similar proposals to eight other tech companies, including eBay and Intel. Arjuna later withdrew the proposal from Intel and also Apple when the companies took action on the issue.

“It’s not simply a social justice issue,” Natasha Lamb, director of shareholder engagement at Arjuna, told Reuters. “It’s an issue that affects performance, affects the company’s ability to attract and retain top talent.”

Amazon has not yet responded to the ruling. The company previously revealed that in July 2015 39% of its global workforce were women and 24% of its management team were women, reports Reuters.

“We’re committed to fairly and equitably compensating all our employees, and we review all employee compensation on at least an annual basis to ensure that it meets that bar,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

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About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, freelance journalist, and former screenwriter represented worldwide by The Hanbury Literary Agency. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books.