The numbers are sobering. Though women make up half the workforce and receive more college and graduate degrees than men, on average, they make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. In fact, the annual report prepared by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reveals that women earn less than their male counterparts in virtually every occupation. That gender pay gap extends even into the hallowed, oh so modern, and—one would expect—enlightened halls of the tech industry. One woman, however, has put the pay disparities of the Silicon Valley giants directly in her sights.
Recently, Forbes magazine profiled the efforts of Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of Boston investment firm Baldwin Brothers Inc. and a shareholder in many of the country’s biggest tech companies. Prior to proxy season, Lamb filed shareholder resolutions with nine tech giants proposing equal pay transparency. Amazon, Expedia, eBay, Google, Adobe, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel and Apple were the companies in her crosshairs. Their reactions to the possibility of having to publish their internal gender pay data were, as you might expect, mixed. Some revealed their data preemptively, prompting Lamb to withdrawal Arjuna’s proposal. Amazon filed a petition with the SEC seeking permission to leave the proposal off its annual ballot. It lost and released its figures six days later. Others dragged their feet in responding. Will they allow the proposal to go to ballot?
Natasha Lamb’s goal was to shine a spotlight on the gender pay gap while illuminating the power investors have in advancing social causes. As she stated in the Forbes article, “Our clients are interested in investing in such a way that they’re having a positive impact on the world with their money.” Here at Red 212, we’re always interested in celebrating strong women who are taking actions that can really make a difference. Thank you, Natasha Lamb, for your hard work on this important issue.