eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) held its annual meeting of shareholders on Wednesday. Thomas J. Tierney, who acts as independent chairman of the board, presided over the same. The meeting saw 5 issues being discussed. The first of them was the election of 11 members who will remain in power (as directors) until the next such meeting in 2017. The next matter to be brought up was about approval on advisory basis of the pay for named eBay executives. After that, Thomas brought up the topic of approval of the material terms of the amendment and restatement of the 2008 equity incentive award plan. Finally, from his side, Thomas raised the point of the appointment of PwC LLP as independent auditors for the year ending December 31st, 2016. All 4 issues were approved.
eBay Inc Not Doing Enough on Gender Pay Disparity
The fifth issue raised was a stockholder proposal. It was from Arjuna Capital, which is a part of Baldwin Brothers Inc. On their behalf, Dylan Sage said that they have been asking that the board publish a report about its policies and goals in order to reduce the gender pay gap. Sage is the MD of Arjuna Capital. To support his comments, Sage said that the median income for a woman working full-time in the USA is reported to be less than four-fifths of that which their male counterparts get. As per forecasts, at the current rate of change, women will not reach pay parity till 2058. Sage added that gender pay disparity is one of the biggest social injustices of our times. It also poses a risk to a firm’s performance, its brand and returns given to investors. He went on to say that the issue is seen even more in the tech industry, which anyway struggles to attract and retain women workers. On an average, male IT professionals earn about $10,000 more per year than female IT professionals.
Sage pointed out to the huge amount of research which has been done in the field of gender pay disparity. About 42% of the firm’s workforce is female. However, in the management, women are just 28%. He also said that it is in eBay’s best interest to restructure its workforce without keeping any bias. Given the seriousness of the problem, he said that he is not satisfied with the level of progress being made.
Other Tech Firms Taking Steps
Sage also pointed to other tech firms which are making progress in this matter, such as Intel, Apple, Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft. As per him, the lack of such progress in eBay’s case has put it behind other rivals. He ended by appealing to others to support the proposal.
The board went against the proposal, apparently for reasons mentioned in the proxy statement and additional proxy materials filed with the SEC. The CEO Devin Wenig said that it is important for shareholders to read those documents. He said that he agrees to almost everything that has been proposed by Sage. But, the additional materials in question already talk about a research study going on at eBay using factors such as salary, bonus and stock-based pay. Devin claimed that this study is more thorough than those of other tech peers. Based on that, should a need arise, they will take suitable action for sure. Devin added that the results of the study will be out by the end of this year. As the single biggest reason for voting against the proposal, the CEO said that the board believes that pay-related matters should be handled by them on their own.