Google’s equal-pay claim for women a step forward, but incomplete, says activist shareholder

Google parent Alphabet Inc.’ss disclosure of new wage data shows a zero per cent gender pay gap for 89 per cent of its employees worldwide, but activist shareholder Arjuna Capital says the data is incomplete.

In releasing the report, Alphabet is following the footsteps of several big U.S. companies in tech and finance which have been pressured by Arjuna to disclose, and promised to close, pay gaps between men and women. Gender pay co-filers Proxy Impact and Baldwin Brothers, Inc. have been equally involved in these efforts. Other big tech names which have promised to cooperate include Intel, eBay, Apple, Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft, and Adobe. Facebook is the only holdout so far.

In a blog post, Google acknowledged that it found significant pay differences for 228 employees across six job groups. The company increased compensation for those employees, who were men and women, totalling $270,000 USD.

“We will continue to focus on fairness in all of our people processes, and want Google to be a great place for everyone to work,” the company wrote.

After Google disclosed the data, Arjuna suggested the company wasn’t painting a complete picture, and in a March 15 release of its own, said the gender pay gap findings are limited to job categories with at least 30 employees, including at least five men and five women. The data also extends only to vice-president positions because employees above that pay grade do not fit the criteria, Google says.

Natasha Lamb, Arjuna Capital’s managing partner and lead filer of gender pay resolutions, said Google has taken a positive step forward, but that she was still “uncomfortable” with the data’s lack of breadth.

“We are eager to withdraw our shareholder proposal at Google, but are concerned that 11 per cent of Google employees are left out of the analysis published today. We think there is room for improvement and can’t give a rubber stamp to an incomplete analysis,” she wrote.

Arjuna’s criticism isn’t the only gender discrimination-based controversy Google has faced recently: Three women sued the company last September, claiming they had been paid less and promoted more slowly than male peers. In January, a fourth plaintiff joined the lawsuit. Google has denied the allegations.

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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