Diversity in the Workplace

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Last year shareholder proponents doubled the number of resolutions on workplace diversity and they have filed even more for 2018. They continue to address two areas. They want more disclosure and action to provide equal employment opportunities for women and minorities. They also seek non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people at work.

More than half of the 26 resolutions filed to date for 2018 are at companies that have not received these requests in the past and 10 are resubmissions; four are not yet public. Proponents have withdrawn six after agreements so far. (Also see proposals seeking executive pay links to diversity)

Women and minorities:
Proponents continue to press companies across the financial sector and at a handful of retailers to explain how they are ensuring equal access to employment for women and minorities. This underscores the key point of the pay disparity campaign, discussed above, at its point of origin: access to jobs in the first place, then a fair chance at promotion, protection from harassment and recourse if it occurs. The EEO campaign, in its third year of resurgence, has special resonance given the persistent attention of the #MeToo movement and new examples flooding the media almost daily of unacceptable workplace behavior.

Social investment firm Trillium Asset Management is the lead filer for about half of the proposals that are now public, with other proposals filed by Calvert Investments, the New York City Comptroller’s Office and Walden Asset Management and include a handful of faith-based co-filers; Zevin Asset Management also has refiled about discrimination based on background checks.

(The three dozen resolutions in the campaign for greater gender pay equity are covered in the Decent Work section above. The Sustainable Governance section describes three dozen other proposals seeking greater board diversity—focused on women but increasingly minorities; both are deeply underrepresented on corporate boards.)

Advocacy Position: Stalled Progress: The Imperative For Investor Action on Workplace Gender Equity

LGBTQ rights:
Only eight shareholder resolutions about LGBTQ rights have been filed for 2018 so far, and most of them are not likely to go to votes since companies usually end up adopting the requested non-discrimination policies, when asked. This is down from a high of more than two dozen back in 2012, (see graph above). But the 2018 proxy season has in the background a national landscape in which the historic legal achievements for LGBTQ rights remain under attack by those asserting that “religious liberty” rights mean they may ignore non-discrimination protections.  (Shareholder resolutions with these themes are covered in the section of the report about conservatives’ campaigns) Leading U.S. companies are on the public record supporting diversity in all its forms, however, including non-discrimination for their LGBTQ employees. While eight resolutions ask for non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity, all but two already have been withdrawn.

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