JPMorgan Chase's Hypothetical

by Julie Graber | on 6 Jun 2019

JPMorgan Chase’s 2019 proxy statement included an interesting hypothetical in its response to a shareholder resolution that would have required the company to provide a report on its global median gender pay gap.

As you can probably guess, the JPMorgan Chase board recommended that shareholders vote against this proposal. The company, like so many others, states that “[g]lobally, women at the Firm are paid 99% of what men are paid, taking into account factors that potentially impact pay” (an intriguing claim given that the “Firm” reported a 26% gender pay gap for its operations in the UK where such reporting is required by law).

The board’s response caught the eye of Jennifer Saba in her May 27, 2019 guest column for Canadian HR Reporter. Saba noted that “the giant lender wrote nearly 2,000 words arguing against this simple measure. It even suggested the statistic might give the company an incentive to limit entry-level job opportunities for women.”

To be fair, the proxy statement actually says “if a company with a high concentration of women in entry level jobs wanted to even out its median pay metric, it could do so by limiting entry level job opportunities for women.” So hypothetically speaking only - not that JPMorgan Chase would ever adopt such a strategy (of course not - what would they do for tellers?).

I’m getting tired of hearing “women are paid 99% of what men are paid” with all the associated exceptions an organization cares to make. It’s cover for a multitude of sins:

  • lack of opportunities to advance

  • lack of mentoring and sponsorship

  • the cost of motherhood (and care-giving)

  • lack of access to networks

  • who you know

  • promotion and pay systems based on the male norm for career progression.

I’m not buying any of it. As Saba says in her article - “Identify the imbalances and gaps, close them, or expect lawmakers to step in” (or shareholders as the case may be).

It’s been 56 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law.

It’s time to stop making excuses.

Fix the problem.

Tags:  In the News