Diversity in the Workplace - Women and Minorities

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Trillium Asset Management requested that 10 companies report to investors with:

  1. A chart identifying employees according to gender and race in major EEOC-defined job categories, listing numbers or percentages in each category;
  2. A description of policies/programs focused on increasing diversity in the workplace.

The resolution is pending at CVS Health, First Republic Bank, KeyCorp, Palo Alto NetworksPriceline.com, Starbucks, Stifel Financial and Travelers but Trillium has withdrawn after agreements at Cigna and PNC Financial, after both agreed to report more fully on the workplace diversity statistics.

Calvert Investments and Walden Asset Management take a similar approach at nine companies but zero in on representation at upper echelons of employment, seeking a report that in addition to EEO-1 category disclosure would also describe “policies and programs implemented to increase the number of minority and female employees in job categories where they are underutilized, including middle and senior level manager positions.” This resolution is pending at IberiaBank, Investors BancorpManhattan Associates, ServiceNow and United Bankshares and proponents have withdrawn it after agreements to implement at CignaDollar General, Discover Financial Services, Morningstar, PNC Financial Services Group and SunTrust Banks.

As last year, companies that currently do not disclose workforce data or the results of diversity initiatives received the proposal, which says investors need such information to assess companies’ diversity promotion efforts. The proponents note that several large employers, including banks, do disclose statistics by job categories as provided to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and that some leading asset managers have begun to acknowledge a lack of gender diversity in senior management. In its proposals, Walden has pointed out racial disparity problems specific to the particular industries, and that senior company officials have stepped down after discrimination controversies.

Home Depot investors will consider EEO issues for the 17th year, in what is likely a record for resubmissions. The proposal routinely earns more than 20 percent support and in 2017 it received 33.7 percent. It asks for:

  1. A chart identifying employees according to their gender and race in each of the nine major EEOC-defined job categories for the last three years, listing numbers or percentages in each category;
  2. A summary description of any affirmative action policies and programs to improve performance, including job categories where women and minorities are underutilized;
  3. A description of policies/programs oriented toward increasing diversity in the workplace.

Background checks:

Zevin Asset Management has returned to Amazon.com with a request it made in 2017 on hiring practices that it says discriminate, as evidenced by the firing of mainly black and Latino delivery drivers in Boston after background checks. The proposal asks for a report

on the use of criminal background checks in hiring and employment decisions for the Company’s employees, independent contractors, and subcontracted workers. The report shall evaluate the risk of racial discrimination that may result from the use of criminal background checks in hiring and employment decisions.

Given the high level of previously-incarcerated adults in the U.S. population, excluding them from the talent pool also may affect competitive performance, the resolution contends. Amazon counters that it is committed to equality but pointed last year to the nature of its business and its use of contracted delivery drivers who operate independently in the field. Last year Amazon unsuccessfully challenged the resolution on ordinary business and it earned 7.3 percent.

Advocacy Position: The Case For a Transparent Workforce