Lamb’s campaign in financial services repeats another directed at the tech industry in Silicon Valley.
In 2015, Arjuna Capital created a model shareholder campaign for addressing gender pay issues in the technology sector. The fund filed a first-of-its-kind shareholder proposal asking eBay to close the gender pay gap.
Shortly thereafter, Salesforce’s CEO came out with a commitment to pay women fairly. Eight of nine proposals were eventually approved by tech giants to disclose and close their gender pay gaps.
Lamb’s new focus squarely rests on business as much as equity: “Women are 20 per cent more likely to leave a career in finance than any other industry,” Lamb told The Financial Brand. “That’s bad for business and it’s bad for investors.”
Given both the moral and financial cases for diversity and equal pay are distinct, the question returns to why isn’t change happening more readily?
Again, the answer is hardly rocket science: powerful interests benefit from the status quo.
This is the fundamental underpinning of all rent seeking, the desire to be paid for property not rightly held.
In this case the rentier class is dominated by older, white males, the traditional power elite now amusingly disparaged as ‘male, pale and stale’.
The generalisation may be cruel but it is fair and the corollary is there are many in established positions who would not have achieved these positions if earlier in their careers they had been exposed to greater meritocracy and less bias – conscious and unconscious – in their favour.
Of course, redress is not comfortable and today we see the very understandable and very human resentment shown by some who once would have been automatic members of the privileged class.
From their position the perception is ‘my chances of promotion are less because I’m male’.
Logically, that’s not false: if an inequitable situation is to be righted, by definition for balance to be achieved there will be adverse bias.
It is a complex challenge; there are legitimate debates around the role of quotas, regulation, policy.
But there is no room for debate about around the fundamental propositions – creating a genuinely diverse workplace is the right thing to and it delivers superior business outcomes.
- To celebrate International Women's Day, bluenotes will be publishing special edition articles from March 1-8 to focus on the triumphs and setbacks of equality for women. We will be joined by guest editor and renowned author, Catherine Fox.
Andrew Cornell is managing editor at bluenotes