Amazon.com Inc. should allow a proposal by an activist shareholder on what the company is doing to address gender pay equality at the e-commerce giant’s annual ballot, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Thursday.
Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers, submitted the proposal to Amazon following which the company asked permission from the SEC to omit the measure, arguing it was “impermissibly vague and misleading.” Arjuna Capital has submitted similar proposals to eight other technology companies, including eBay and Intel.
However, the SEC replied Thursday to Amazon’s arguments and asked the company to include the proposal in its 2016 proxy statement because the proposal was “not so inherently vague or indefinite.” Arjuna Capital had earlier called for an October 2016 deadline for Amazon to report the difference between male and female employees’ salaries, according to earlier SEC filings.
Gender pay gap is a “significant social policy issue” that shareholders should be able to consider, the SEC added.
"We're committed to fairly and equitably compensating all our employees, and we review all employee compensation on at least an annual basis to ensure that it meets that bar," Amazon said in an email to Reuters. Amazon has estimated that as of July last year, women made up 39 percent of its global workforce and 24 percent of managers.
Earlier in March, Arjuna Capital said in a statement that chip maker Intel had achieved 100 percent gender equity on pay in February while Apple confirmed that it had 99.6 percent equal pay between male and female employees in March.