Financial institutions have been far from immune to this problem. When the United Kingdom, in 2017, made it compulsory for all companies with over 250 employees to report publicly on the gender pay gap, the financial industry was found to have one of the highest gender pay gap rates in the country.
This year, following shareholder proposals by VCIM, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Sun Life Financial (Sun Life), and Manulife Financial (Manulife) agreed to establish gender pay gap reporting across their Canadian operations as part of their 2019/2020 sustainability reporting. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) went even further to include its US and UK operations, which account for most of RBC’s global workforce, in its gender pay gap reporting. This puts these banks in line with the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) and Toronto Dominion Bank (TD), which began reporting their gender pay gap in 2018/2019 following earlier shareholder advocacy by VCIM.
“Transparent reporting lowers the gap, increases promotion of women to more senior positions, and decreases operational costs” says Shelly Dhawan, Head of ESG at VCIM. “Through understanding the value of transparency, VCIM worked collaboratively with these financial institutions, sharing the reporting framework that our parent company, Vancity, has been following for more than 10 years. Working together, we were able to move the needle on this issue of entrenched inequity in compensation.”