eBay’s board squashed a shareholder proposal calling for a transparency report on pay disparity, according to Boston-based Arjuna Capital/Baldwin Brothers Inc. But according to eBay spokesperson Kari Ramirez, “eBay Inc. remains committed to fostering all types of diversity including gender diversity.”
eBay should publicly report the pay disparity between male and female employees and set goals to close the gap, according to the investment firm. Arjuna Capital issued a press release on Thursday titled “eBay Opposes Goal to Close Gender Pay Gap.”
eBay’s Ramirez told EcommerceBytes, “We will not be commenting on proposals ahead of our proxy filing.”
The proposal states that while 42% of eBay’s employees are women, they only account for 28% of the firm’s leadership. Arjuna Capital pointed out President Obama’s call for equal pay for equal work during his State of the Union address, as well as actress Patricia Arquette’s call for wage equality during her acceptance speech at the Oscars, adding that this is the first year the issue of gender wage equality has been put to the proxy ballot of a U.S. corporation.
Arjuna Capital’s Natasha Lamb cited research pointing to gender diversity as a key driver of innovation and performance and said the company was surprised by eBay’s opposition to its shareholder proposal. “We want to invest in companies committed to the innovation and success diversity fosters.”
Regulatory and litigation risk also exists related to pay parity, according to Arjuna Capital. “The Paycheck Fairness Act of 2014 is pending before Congress to improve company-level transparency and strengthen penalties for equal-pay violations.”
The Rainbow Push Coalition brought the issue of diversity to Silicon Valley last year, and at its annual shareholders meeting last year, eBay allowed Rev. Jesse Jackson to make a statement calling for tech companies to take action to promote diversity. The Coalition criticized tech companies including eBay for having no African Americans on their Board of Directors. (eBay currently has two women on its 14-member board.)
Fortune 500 retailer Macy’s proved board diversity is possible – this article in Fortunedescribes how Macy’s quietly created one of America’s most diverse boards.
The full text of the eBay shareholder proposal is available on the Arjuna Capital website. A supporting statement calls for a report adequate for investors to assess eBay’s strategy and performance.