One Big Way to Improve Gender Equality in the Workplace

Gender Equality Funds

One Big Way to Improve Gender Equality in the Workplace

You don’t have to look far to wonder if we still have a long way to go to ensure gender equality in the workplace. As one report says, “Progress isn’t just slow. It’s stalled.” So, what will it take to finally have rights, responsibilities and opportunities unaffected by gender?

Gender Equality Funds

One significant way to help move the needle is to invest with your values to exert market pressure on companies to improve their performance on gender issues. How do you do that? Well, it’s easy, thanks to Gender Equality Funds.

Gender Equality Funds is a free, online tool that screens the specific holdings of thousands of the most commonly-held U.S. mutual funds against a database detailing individual company performance on 12 key gender equality indicators. These 12 indicators measure policies that demonstrate a commitment to gender diversity and gender balance in the overall leadership, management, and workforce of companies, combining into an overall gender equality portfolio score for each mutual fund.

How do you use the tool?

1. Right from the homepage, you can either click to find the top-scoring funds or enter the name of a mutual fund in the search bar.

2. Review the results by sorting the funds based on your top criteria and comparing financial performance.

3. Identify the funds that fit your investing needs.

4. Share the results with your financial advisor or retirement plan manager and explain that you want your investments aligned with your values. Check out this action toolkit for more information.

It’s that easy! Now you have the tool to apply a gender lens in evaluating mutual funds and the power to encourage fund managers to construct and offer investment vehicles that are sympathetic to gender parity.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news on gender equality in the workplace? If so, sign up here for updates on Gender Equality Funds.

Gender Equality Funds is As You Sow’s fifth Invest Your Values tool, joining Fossil Free Funds, Deforestation Free Funds, Tobacco Free Funds, and Weapon Free Funds.

Gender Pay Gap Is More Than Just Salary — It Is Also About Opportunity

Gender Equality Funds

Gender Pay Gap Is More Than Just Salary — It Is Also About Opportunity

Numerous studies show women are paid less than their male counterparts. This is a key challenge for companies as they face reputational risk, consumer backlash, new legislation, and governmental and employee lawsuits. Just the perception of a gender pay gap can make it hard to recruit or keep top talent. 

Gender Equality Funds

Equal pay is also more than a question of fairness. It would help grow the economy, strengthen single parent families, cut the poverty rate for working women, and make business more competitive.

Over the last five years, shareholders have engaged more than 50 companies through dialogues and resolutions, asking about their analyses, policies, and goals to track and reduce any gender pay gap.  Many of these companies, particularly in the tech and finance sectors, quickly stated that female pay was 99 percent that of male peers.  

These responses relied on adjusted pay, which looks at comparable criteria such as education, occupation, seniority, or geography. This method identifies inequality among similar workers for similar jobs.

One problem with these assertions of 99 percent pay equity is a lack of transparency and the omission of data. For example, Google’s 2018 gender pay report did not include the highest earning 11 percent of management (where the biggest discrepancies exist).

Even if all the data is accurate, we are left with a snapshot of equal pay, not a wage gap.

Since 2018, UK companies must disclose median and mean gender pay gaps across hourly and bonus earnings. Median pay compares unadjusted data. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) considers this a better measure of the pay gap. The OECD reports that income for women working full time in the U.S. is 80 percent of what men receive. The gap for African American and Latina women is 60 percent and 55 percent, respectively. At the current rate, women will not reach pay parity until 2059.

By comparing median pay, the same companies that found 99 percent equal pay in their U.S. operations found differences of 15 to 30 percent (or more) in their U.K. operations. This difference comes from most women being in lower paying jobs (where equal pay is more likely) and higher paid jobs being overwhelmingly male.

While salary policies can help ensure equal pay for equal work, providing equal opportunity to move up the corporate ladder requires more specific action from management, including stronger commitments to recruitment, development, and retention.

Ultimately, it is both equal pay and equal opportunity that will eliminate the gender pay gap.

Proxy Impact and Arjuna Capital publish an annual Gender Pay Scorecard.  We have found few U.S. companies provide both adjusted and unadjusted data, but a new gender pay report by Citigroup is helping to set a standard for what this reporting should look like.

Only with more complete and transparent reporting will we know if women are being paid equally and moving into higher paying leadership positions. 

Want to help move the needle on gender equality issues in the workplace? Visit Gender Equality Funds and apply a gender lens to nearly 5,000 of the most commonly-held U.S. mutual funds. Gender Equality Funds enables investors to align their investment with their values. It reveals which mutual funds are investing in the companies that lead the field in terms of gender balance and equality. Investors can easily search the Gender Equality Funds database to see how specific funds are scored, find responsible options that track leading companies in terms of gender equality, and compare financial returns. Sign up here for updates on Gender Equality Funds.

Michael Passoff is the founder and CEO of Proxy Impact, a shareholder advocacy and proxy voting service for sustainable and responsible investors.