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WOULD SILICON VALLEY ADDRESS THE GENDER PAY GAP?

Reference No. 16/012C Publication Year 2016
Author(s) Mario Liong, W. H. Lo
Company Industry
Industry Technology Hardware; Software and Services
Geographic setting The United States
Functional Area Economics & Business Policy; Human Resource Management; Strategy & General Management

Synopsis

In the United States, around 50% of jobs were held by women. Yet in 2013, the annual pay of full-time working women was only 78% of that of full-time working men. In fact, the gender pay gap in the United States had remained at this scale for around two decades. Recently socially conscious activist investors such as Arjuna Capital try to address this stubborn problem with encouraging results. Intel and Apple had announced in the first quarter of 2016 that they had closed or would soon close the gender pay gap existing in their operations. Arjuna Capital targeted the top tier technology companies of Silicon Valley to drive them to address the pay gap issue. The country was watching whether these companies would willingly follow the leading examples of Intel and Apple, or if they would act as Amazon did, who had filed with the United States Security and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in vain to omit Arjuna Capital’s proposal to allow shareholders to cast votes in the coming general meeting on whether the company should prepare “a report on what it is doing to address gender pay equality.”

Learning Objectives

Students are expected to:

1. Learn the concept of the gender pay gap and its impacts on society and companies.

2. Understand the benefits of gender diversity for businesses.

3. Critically appraise the paradox that technology companies are highly successful with a low level of gender diversity.

 

Suggested Questions:

1. Discuss the possible impacts for companies that have a wide gender pay gap.

2. Discuss the benefits of gender diversity for businesses.

3. Discuss the possible reasons for one of the following:

a) countries with higher gender pay gap have a larger and more robust economy than countries with smaller gender pay gap

b) gender diversity brings multiple benefits, yet successful technology companies in the United States thrive in its absence.

4. What are the possible causes of the gender pay gap in technology sector in the US?