Banking

Bank of America, Wells Fargo reveal gender pay differences after shareholder pressure

A new lawsuit says Bank of America jerked around borrowers trying to hang onto their homes, pushing them into foreclosure while it enriched itself off a federal mortgage-modification program.
A new lawsuit says Bank of America jerked around borrowers trying to hang onto their homes, pushing them into foreclosure while it enriched itself off a federal mortgage-modification program.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo, bowing to pressure from a shareholder, have disclosed differences in pay between male and female employees, as well as disparities for minorities.

Last month, Massachusetts-based Arjuna Capital revealed that Bank of America said compensation for female employees in the U.S. and the United Kingdom equals 99 percent on average of what male counterparts are paid. Minority-employee compensation at the Charlotte-based bank is also 99 percent on average compared with non-minority pay, Arjuna said.

And following prodding from Arjuna, Wells Fargo on Thursday also disclosed its pay gaps, reporting that female employees in the U.S. earn more than 99 cents for every dollar men are paid. The gap is similar for Wells employees of color based in the U.S., the San Francisco-based bank said. Wells also disclosed that 56 percent of its employees are women and 42 percent of its U.S. workers are people of color.

Both disclosures come after New York-based Citigroup last month became the first large U.S. bank to release pay gap data to Arjuna. Citigroup told the company that women in the U.S., U.K. and Germany are paid on average 99 percent of what men are paid, and U.S. minorities are paid 99 percent of what non-minorities are paid.

It’s a reversal from the banks’ posture last year, when Arjuna urged them to make similar disclosures, but all three opposed the request. In making that push, Arjuna noted the financial industry in general is dominated by men and has a high gender pay gap.

Last year’s effort came after Arjuna in 2016 pressed for Silicon Valley companies to disclose gender pay gaps.

Arjuna noted Thursday that six other large financial institutions, including New York’s JPMorgan Chase, have yet to fulfill its request to publish their gender pay gaps.

Natasha Lamb, Arjuna managing partner, praised Wells Fargo in a statement, saying the move meant the “flood gates are officially open for equal pay on Wall Street.” She praised the quick release of pay information by Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

“Today, we applaud Wells Fargo for working collaboratively to meet investor concerns. It’s a win for the company, its employees, and investors who reap the performance benefits of greater diversity,” Lamb said.

The disclosures by the three banks also come at a time of nationwide scrutiny of how women are treated in the workplace. Celebrities, media figures and other men have been toppled by recent revelations of sexual misconduct involving women working for or with them.

In a statement, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Diana Rodriguez said the compensation findings validate the company’s commitment to equitable pay and its continued commitment to attracting, developing and retaining top talent.

A Bank of America spokesman told the Observer the company is focused on responsible growth, which includes making the bank a great place to work. Releasing pay gap information is part of that effort and helps to create a culture of inclusion, fairness, respect and transparency, the spokesman said.

Bank of America has said it employs about 15,000 people in Charlotte. Wells Fargo has said it employs 25,000 in Charlotte, its largest employment hub.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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