Aflac – Workforce Diversity (2016)
Outcome: Successfully withdrawn following a commitment from the company to release comprehensive workforce diversity data.
A McKinsey & Company report found companies with highly diverse executive teams had higher returns on equity and earnings performance than those with low diversity.
Aflac states that “Our nation’s demographics are changing, and Aflac is reaching out to increasingly diverse accounts, customers and communities. After all, if we want these individuals and groups to do business with Aflac, we must also do business with them.”
However, Aflac does not disclose workforce data, or disclose results of diversity initiatives. As a result, shareholders have insufficient information to determine if Aflac has a diverse workforce or has been successful in expanding diversity into senior roles.
Leading insurance companies such as MetLife and Allstate Corporation provide details of diversity programs and policies, and disclose workforce statistics consistent with data provided to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Other financial services firms have begun acknowledging the lack of gender diversity in senior roles and in August, 2016 seven global asset managers including Blackrock, Capital Group, and Fidelity, shared diversity statistics which show, on average, that women represent nearly one-half of their workforce but represent just one-quarter of senior staff.
Research from Mercer confirms that improving gender diversity will require greater attention to closing the gender pay gap. Owing to the widespread and general concern about gender and racial wage disparities the EEOC has recently finalized a new rule to stem wage discrimination by collecting pay data by gender, race and ethnicity in a dozen job categories.
Expanding workforce diversity and closing the wage gap also requires policies and programs that attract and retain diversity in the workplace. A company’s family leave policies, for example, can play a role. McKinsey & Company reports that paid parental leave and the availability of on-site child care can significantly impact women’s ability to rise to higher productivity roles and therefore perpetuate a gender wage gap. The best performing companies on gender diversity have implemented gender neutral policies that improve the workplace for both men and women, according to McKinsey.
Diversity benchmarks can help ensure companies hiring hundreds of financial professionals, such as Aflac, create competitive workforces. Companies that are publicly accountable to diversity goals are most likely to make rapid progress toward achieving their goals.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Aflac prepare a diversity report, at a reasonable cost and omitting confidential information, available to investors including:
1. A chart identifying employees according to gender and race in major EEOC-defined job categories, listing numbers or percentages in each category;
2. A description of policies/programs focused on increasing gender and racial diversity in the workplace.
Supporting Statement: A report adequate for investors to assess strategy and performance can include a review of appropriate time-bound benchmarks for judging current and future progress, and details of policies and practices designed to reduce unconscious bias in hiring and to build mentorship.