Vanguard: Close the Wage Gap

Vanguard should develop policies to encourage its portfolio companies to close their gender and racial wage gaps

The World Economic Forum estimates the gender pay gap costs the economy over 1 trillion dollars annually. [1] The median income for women working full time in the United States is 80 percent of that of their male counterparts. [2] This disparity can equal nearly half a million dollars over a career. The gap for African American and Latina women is 60 percent and 55 percent. [3] At the current rate, women will not reach pay parity until 2059. [4]

Research from Morgan Stanley, [5] McKinsey, [6] and Robeco Sam [7] suggests gender diverse leadership leads to superior stock price performance and return on equity. McKinsey states, “the business case for the advancement and promotion of women is compelling.” Best practices include “tracking and eliminating gender pay gaps.” 

Mercer finds actively managing pay equity “is associated with higher current female representation at the professional through executive levels and a faster trajectory to improved representation.” [8] Vanguard's 2017 open letter to companies worldwide highlighted the economic imperative for diverse boards. [9] Vanguard supported 4 of 9 shareholder proposals in 2018 calling for increased gender diversity. [10]

This year, 11 shareholder proposals have been filed asking companies to disclose their median pay gaps. [11] Vanguard does not have specific guidelines for voting or engaging with companies on their pay gaps. [12]

Vanguard should recognize the importance of closing the pay gap to promote diversity, and develop policies to encourage companies to disclose and close their gender and racial pay gaps, both through voting on proposals and direct meetings with management.

[1] https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2018

[2] https://iwpr.org/publications/gender-wage-gap-2016-earnings-differences-gender-race-ethnicity

[3] https://iwpr.org/publications/gender-wage-gap-2016-earnings-differences-gender-race-ethnicity/

[4] https://iwpr.org/publications/gender-wage-gap-2016-earnings-differences-gender-race-ethnicity/

[5] https://www.morganstanley.com/pub/content/dam/msdotcom/ideas/gender-diversity-toolkit/Gender-Diversity-Investing-Primer.pdf

[6] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/promoting-gender-parity-in-the-global-workplace

[7] http://edge-cert.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Does-corporate-gender-equality-lead-to-outperformance.pdf

[8] https://www.mercer.com/newsroom/mercer-study-reveals-well-intended-efforts-on-gender-diversity-not-improving-workforce-progression-of-women.html

[9] https://about.vanguard.com/investment-stewardship/governance-letter-to-companies.pdf

[10] https://about.vanguard.com/investment-stewardship/perspectives-and-commentary/2018_investment_stewardship_annual_report.pdf

[11] http://arjuna-capital.com/news/press-release-12-u-s-banks-and-tech-giants-targeted-with-median-gender-pay-gap-shareholder-proposal

[12] https://about.vanguard.com/investment-stewardship/policies-and-guidelines/