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Technology

Facebook and Microsoft: Our male and female employees earn equal wages

Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at the Facebook's F8 Developers Conference.
(Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group / TNS)

Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., giants in a field long criticized for lacking gender diversity, disclosed this week that their female employees earn as much as their male employees.

The revelation adds momentum to efforts to bring parity to the technology industry’s workforce, which is three-quarters male, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

Men in some computer programming fields earn an average of 28.3% more than their female counterparts, according to Glassdoor. That gap is larger than the national average, which finds that women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The announcement by Facebook and Microsoft came a day before Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day, which was established two decades ago to illustrate how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

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“For technology companies, innovation is job No. 1, and the more diverse leadership teams are, the more those companies are shown to lead in innovation,” said Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement for Arjuna Capital, which has been pressuring Facebook and Microsoft to address the gender wage gap in tech.

“If these companies want to compete on innovation, they need to be drawing from 100% of the talent pool and incentivizing women to move into leadership positions.”

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s executive vice president for human resources, said in a blog post that female employees were paid 99.8 cents for every dollar a male employee earned. Ethnic minorities were paid exactly the same as white employees, she said.

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“If we want to build products and services for everyone on the planet, we need to represent everyone on the planet,” Hogan said. “Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is indeed a powerful bridge to the markets and people we serve.”

Facebook did not disclose precisely how much women made compared to men, but the company’s head of human resources, Lori Matloff Goler, wrote on her Facebook page, “Men and women earn the same.”

Arjuna Capital has written shareholder proposals asking major tech companies to disclose how much female employees earn compared to men. The proposals also requested that the companies devise plans to close the wage gap.

The reason? Attracting diverse employees benefits investors, Lamb said.

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“It’s in their own self-interest to be proactive on this issue and ensure both their current and prospective employees that they’re committed to paying people fairly and equally,” Lamb said. “There’s so much competition in Silicon Valley for top talent that if you’re not attracting or retaining top talent, including women, then you’re at a significant competitive disadvantage.”

In addition to Facebook and Microsoft, Lamb said Arjuna Capital has targeted shareholder proposals for EBay, Expedia, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Amazon and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

So far, Intel, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have released pay numbers, while Expedia said it would do so in October.

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Amazon said women made 99.9 cents for every dollar a man earned. At Apple, that ratio was 99.6%, and at Intel, parity was at 100%.

Lamb said EBay shareholders will vote on the Arjuna Capital’s proposal later this month. She added that the investment firm was in talks with Adobe, which hasn’t released any figures.

Alphabet said there is no pay gap for its male and female employees, but like Facebook, it did not disclose data.

Lamb urged companies to also disclose data for bonuses and equity to reveal the full scope of pay packages. She said she was disappointed that Google and Facebook did not provide any numbers to back their claims of pay parity.

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“I’m surprised given Sheryl Sandberg’s very vocal Lean In philosophy that Facebook would come forward with a less-than-stellar disclosure,” Lamb said. “It sets a poor precedent for other companies.”

Follow me on Twitter: @dhpierson

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