Pfizer gets an A on equality scorecard on Equal Pay Day

On Tuesday, March 15, Equal Pay Day, Arjuna Capital and Proxy Impact released the fifth Racial and Gender Pay Scorecard, and, surprise—women and people of color are still being paid less than their white male counterparts.

However, one pharma, namely Pfizer, is getting an A when it comes to quantitative disclosures in relation to closing racial and gender pay gaps. Unfortunately, the other pharma on the list, Biogen, received an F, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean it is failing, it does mean the company has refused to disclose its quantitative data on the subject. This, of course, usually isn’t a good sign.

According to the report (PDF), the healthcare sector is said to have the “fifth widest adjusted gender pay gap out of 22 industries, at 5.7%, as reported by Glassdoor. That gap has improved 1.5% since 2015. Biotech and Pharma are reported to have the smallest adjusted gender pay gap at 2.2%, improving 0.8% since 2015.”

The ratings are based on quantitative disclosures (rather than qualitative assurances) regarding the steps the company is taking to address and close racial and gender pay gaps. The rankings are of 57 companies that have all been engaged by investors through the shareholder proposal process and have been asked to improve their public pay equity disclosures.

“We tried to go for quantitative data as opposed to (qualitative) because all of the companies say ‘we believe in equal pay,’” Michael Passoff, CEO at Proxy Impact, said. “A lot of them say we have 99% equal pay, which we think is incorrect—or questionable.”

The date of Equal Pay Day is actually fluid, as each year it’s dictated by how far into the year the average median woman must work (plus last year’s earnings) in order to have earned what the average median man had earned the entire previous year. The good news is that each year the date has moved up a bit, a heartening trajectory.

The thing to remember is that workplace diversity isn’t about doing anyone any favors; Passoff says it is actually beneficial to the company and the industry.

“Workplace diversity, senior management diversity—it seems to improve performance. It's going to make it easier to recruit top people. You’re going to want to attract the best people for that. So I think that’s the benefits to the pharma industry."