American Express Co. will disclose data on its gender pay gap by the end of the year, according to a shareholder activist that’s been pushing Wall Street to release the information.
The credit-card company pledged to report to shareholders by the end of 2018 any findings on pay disparities, Arjuna Capital said Wednesday in a statement. New York-based AmEx said in a memo to employees that it regularly reviews pay policies to make sure they support pay equality and transparency.
“Based on the most recent comprehensive pay analysis we conducted with a third-party consulting firm, we are confident that our colleagues are compensated equitably, regardless of gender,” the company said in the memo. “The review found no evidence of bias in our compensation processes and indicated we were effectively at parity.”
AmEx’s decision, which came after pressure from Arjuna, follows similar moves by Mastercard Inc. and most of the biggest U.S. banks. All of them reported that women and men were paid substantially the same amount, but none of the companies said how they calculated the figures and all were adjusted for factors such as seniority and job role.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. all have said this year that they paid women roughly 99 percent of what men earn.
Women make up 50 percent of American Express’s work force and only 30 percent of managers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. gender pay gap has been stuck at around 20 percent for the past decade, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
“Women are still 20 percent more likely to leave a career in finance than any other industry—that’s bad for business, and it’s bad for investors,” said Arjuna Capital managing partner Natasha Lamb, who filed a shareholder proposal seeking the pay disclosure at American Express and eight other companies this year. Calling equal pay “a critical first step” to retaining top talent, Arjuna withdrew its proposal in response to AmEx’s pledge.
In her withdrawal letter, Lamb said AmEx’s review will include base, bonus and equity compensation, and the company will adjust pay to get to 100 percent equality. It will also disclose its methodology, according to Lamb.
While some analysts have questioned banks’ assertions about a 1 percent pay gap, “these companies along with a handful of tech and consumer firms, are at the leading edge” in U.S. gender pay equity, Lamb said.
“With assurances that women will be paid fairly, we can focus more confidently on the next step: moving women into higher paying leadership positions,” she said in an email.