Scrutiny of the gender pay gap in the U.S. and abroad has intensified in recent years and shows no sign of diminishing in the short term.
In the U.K., both private and public sector employers with at least 250 employees are now required to publish gender pay data. This is an annual obligation to publish details including the organization’s overall gender pay gap, the percentages of male and female employees across four quartiles and the gender pay gap in relation to bonuses. The deadline for the first reports was April 4, 2018, for private sector employers and March 30, 2018, for public sector employers.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to identify pay discrimination enforcement actions among its strategic priorities, and a number of states (e.g., California, Delaware, Oregon, etc.) have recently enacted more stringent laws aimed at achieving pay equality in the workplace. Alongside these legislative and enforcement efforts to curb pay discrimination, activist shareholder firms have begun pressuring public companies in the U.S. to address the gender pay gap by making shareholder proposals that, if passed, would require targeted companies to disclose pay information describing their female employees’ pay as a percentile of male employees’ compensation.
Activist firms, such as Arjuna Capital and Trillium Asset Management, have targeted numerous companies with shareholder proposals that would require disclosure of gender pay data in annual 14-A proxy statements. Overwhelmingly, these proposals have either failed (by a significant margin) or, increasingly, have been withdrawn before a formal