Among the most discussed issues at companies today are those surrounding diversity and gender pay equity.
Regarding diversity, companies are increasingly engaging with shareholders to ensure that a diverse array of candidates are selected for all positions within a company with an emphasis on diverse representation among senior executives and members of the Board of Directors. Shareholder proposals frequently touch on diversity issues from requesting a company disclose their EEO-1 data to others which request a policy which promotes the accelerated recruitment of minority board members. Additionally, although public companies in the U.S. do provide disclosures about their board diversity policies, there is a growing push to have the SEC take additional steps to augment diversity disclosure requirements.
As for gender pay equity, perhaps no issue has been more widely discussed in society and among companies. For the first time, 2017 featured several shareholder proposal campaigns targeting specific industry segments with shareholder proposals requesting companies publish a report which details their gender pay gap and other details. No proposal received majority support and the overall average barely peaked 13%. However, in the beginning of 2018 in the face of another shareholder campaign, a major U.S. financial institution voluntarily provided a gender pay equity disclosure in a first of its kind agreement with the shareholder proponent. The expectation is that going forward, more companies make this decision and attention to gender pay equity issues continues to rise.