2021 Proxy Season to Show If “Black Lives Matter” to Shareholders
Do U.S. shareholders think that Amazon, Alphabet/Google, Facebook, Twitter, Chubb, Intel, and other leading corporations need to address the concerns of African Americans and other people of color? That question will be put to the test during 2021 by the investment management firm Arjuna Capital, which is advancing shareholder resolutions on racial pay equity reporting, civil/human rights representation on boards, and the insuring of police brutality cases.
Already, the Arjuna Capital 2021 campaign has seen success. Today, Arjuna Capital announced it has successfully withdrawn its racial/gender pay equity reporting resolution at Bank of New York Mellon, which has agreed to provide a detailed level of median pay transparency. Last December 5th, Arjuna Capital withdrew a similar resolution at tech giant Adobe, which agreed to provide gender pay disclosures immediately and median racial pay gap data by the end of 2021 or face more shareholder pressure.
In taking the step, Adobe and now Bank of New York Mellon join an elite group of companies that have made more detailed pay gap disclosures at the request of Arjuna Capital. In the 2020 proxy season, Mastercard and Starbucks responded to Arjuna Capital’s median race and gender pay equity resolutions and made the requested disclosures. The first company to agree to such a resolution from Arjuna Capital was Citigroup in January 2019.
Natasha Lamb, managing partner, Arjuna Capital, said:
“Across multiple issues, shareholders in 2021 will have the opportunity to show whether or not they believe Black Lives Matter. The push for median race and gender pay equity is going to be a major issue in the 2021 shareholder season. We need more companies to follow the lead of Bank of New York Mellon and Adobe by prioritizing diversity in a meaningful way and stepping forward with an honest accounting of pay equity.”
The 2021 shareholder resolutions involving issues of concern to African Americans and other people of color include:
Board representation. Arjuna Capital is seeking an experienced voice with human and civil rights expertise at Facebook, Alphabet/Google, and Twitter. In all three cases, these social media powerhouses have encountered criticism for perpetuating racism and hate speech on their platforms. Facebook was the target of a major advertising boycott campaign focused on these very issues. The Arjuna Capital resolution notes that these closely held companies with boards dominated by white males will never be able to deal with these issues until they allow in other diverse leadership voices.