(AMZN) Must Allow Shareholders to Vote on Gender Pay Equality: SEC

Amazon Employee

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected the request of the e-commerce giant, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to remove from its annual ballot the proposal on gender pay equality by Arjuna Capital and Baldwin Brothers.

The Commission ruled that Amazon must allow shareholders to vote on the proposal, which was also submitted by Arjuna Capital to eight other technology companies including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC).

Arjuna Capital asked the e-commerce giant to prepare a report by October 26 regarding its policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap, which is defined as the difference between male and female expressed as a percentage of male earnings according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Amazon believes the proposal was ”vague and misleading”

The activist investor said Amazon was the only company that requested permission to omit its proposal on gender pay equality.

In a letter filed with the SEC, the e-commerce giant explained that the proposal should be excluded from its 2016 Proxy Materials pursuant to Rule 14a-8(i)(3) because it refers to an external set of guidelines for its implementation. Amazon also argued that the proposal “fails to accurately or sufficiently describe those guidelines so that neither shareholders nor the company can determine what action the proposal requires, rendering the proposal impermissibly vague and misleading.”

The SEC refused to agree with Amazon’s argument that the proposal was “so inherently vague and indefinite,” which hinder implementation.

Natasha Lamb, director of shareholder engagement at Arjuna Capital, said, “Paying women a fair wage is essential to driving diversity, which is critical to innovation and performance.”

“A proactive approach to gender pay equity is just good business.  Companies can and should commit to closing the gender pay gap today.  But it won’t happen without bold leadership,” she added

Amazon is committed to fair compensation for all employees

Amazon estimated that women represent 39% of its global workforce, and 24% of them are managers as of July.

The e-commerce giant said, “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 also stated that it has been working with and the Anita Borg Institute and Girls Who Code to increase the involvement of women and minorities in the technology industry.