Bank of America – Publicly Disclose Diversity Data (2000 – 2001)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
Whereas equal employment is a key issue for many shareholders. The 1995 bipartisan Glass Ceiling Commission Study explains that a positive diversity record has a positive impact on the bottom line. Yet while women and minorities comprise 57% of the U.S. workforce, they represent only 3% of executive management positions.
Workplace discrimination has often created a significant burden for shareholders, in several instances exceeding $100 million to settle discrimination lawsuits. This issue is a priority for stakeholders due to the high cost of litigation, potential loss of government contracts, and the financial consequences of a damaged corporate image resulting from discrimination allegations.
More than 150 major U.S. corporations publicly report to shareholders on workforce diversity progress and challenges. Among the companies releasing comprehensive Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) data are many large financial institutions such as Bank of New York, Chase Manhattan, First Union, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia.
Despite having earned praise for its achievements promoting diversity from Fortune, Working Mother, the National Association of Urban Bankers and others, Bank of America has yet to join other leading companies committed to full public accountability and disclosure on EEO.
We believe full accountability is especially important for Bank of America given its plans to eliminate about 10,000 employees (7% of the total), including substantial numbers of middle and upper level managers.
Resolved: Shareholders request that Bank of America prepare a report at reasonable cost, which may exclude confidential information. This report shall be made available to shareholders and employees by September, 2001 and shall include:
1. A table identifying the number of employees by gender and race in each of the nine Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defined job categories for 1998, 1999 and 2000.
2. A table identifying the number of employees by gender and race at the vice president, senior vice president and executive vice president levels.
3. A summary of policies and initiatives to advance women and minorities into managerial positions and other job classifications where they are found to be underutilized.
4. A description of policies and programs directing the purchase of goods and services to minority and/or women-owned businesses.
5. A report on material litigation in which Bank of America is involved concerning race, gender, or the physically challenged.
Just as the Financial Accounting Standards Board sets the standards on how to report financial data, there are standards set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on how to report diversity data. Since the company already collects the data in the EEOC format, it would not be burdensome to make this data available to investors.
We believe Bank of America aspires to real leadership on this issue and has, in many respects, a solid record of achievement. It is time for our company to take the next step. Comprehensive disclosure is a powerful incentive for companies to accomplish fully their equal opportunity objectives. Such accountability would solidify management’s dedication to a diverse workforce.