Adobe Systems – Workplace Diversity – 2016
Outcome: Successfully withdrawn after Adobe published an expanded section of its website that includes its annual EEO-1 workforce diversity data and provides meaningful disclosures around its strategies aimed at building the pipeline of diverse employee candidates starting in grades K-12; and initiatives focused on attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in its workforce.
McKinsey & Company found companies with highly diverse executive teams had higher returns on equity and earnings performance than those with low diversity, and a May 2014 study found gender diverse teams were better at driving “radical innovation”.
Adobe states that it “firmly believes a diverse workforce drives richer collaboration, innovation, and creativity” and is committed to achieving the longer-term outcome of a more representative workforce.
We believe Adobe Systems customers are increasingly diverse. A diverse work force is more likely to anticipate and respond effectively to consumer demand.
Yet, the ratio of male to female employees has been virtually unchanged at 70 percent to 30 percent for the past five years. In 2014, Hispanics represented 4 percent of Adobe’s U.S. workforce and blacks represent 2 percent, unchanged from 2013.
Adobe and its peers have acknowledged the problem and lack of progress toward achieving greater diversity. Yet Adobe has not set a clear definition of progress, nor put forth a long-term program of how to address the issue.
In response to the issue industry peer Intel set a public, time-bound goal for hiring women and underrepresented minorities. In 2015, a portion of every employee’s variable compensation will be tied to achieving the diversity goal. In August, 2015 Intel reported that it exceeded its annual target of 40 percent hires of women, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans in the first six months of the year.
In 2013, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported racial minorities comprised 35.9 percent of the private industry workforce, but just 12.2 percent of executives and managers. Likewise, women represented 47.8 percent of the workforce, but just 29.2 percent of executives and managers.
Employment and advancement barriers persist. According to the United States Census Bureau, African-Americans and Hispanics have been consistently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations. In 2011, blacks represented 11 percent of the total work force but only 6 percent of STEM workers. Hispanics were 15 percent of the total work force and 7 percent of STEM workers.
Adobe does not publicly report complete EEO- 1 data – furthering investors’ inability to assess commitment to diversity. Industry peers including Intel, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Hewlett-Packard, and Nvidia publicly report EEO-1 data.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Adobe Systems prepare a diversity report, at reasonable cost and omitting confidential information, available to investors by July, 2016 including the following:
1. A chart identifying employees according to gender and race in the major EEOC-defined job categories, listing numbers or percentages in each category;
2. A description of policies/programs focused on increasing diversity in the workplace.