Adobe says women earn 99% as much as men

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Adobe said in a new report that its female workers earn 99% as much as men, becoming the first major U.S. tech company to disclose worldwide median pay based on gender.

Adobe joins Citigroup, Starbucks and Mastercard in disclosing this kind of information, which measures the pay of women and men across all job classifications no matter their role in the company, said Arjuna Capital, which had pressured Adobe and a dozen other companies to disclose gender pay data. Based on this median-pay yardstick, the U.S. earnings gap of women to men is about 82%, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Companies have been more willing to disclose the wage gap for so-called equal work, which measures what men and women are paid for the same job. Median pay measures the distribution of jobs across society or at companies, showing that men tend to be in the higher-paying jobs and women tend to be in jobs with lower pay. Median pay disclosures by companies have been mandated in the U.K. since 2018 and are increasingly required across Europe. 

“If companies continue to only compare work of people in the same job, to make sure they are paid fairly for that job, then they’re not doing the structural work to increase diversity throughout the ranks and have more women and people of color in higher-paid positions,” said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna.

Adobe’s Wednesday report also introduced a new measurement from the company called “opportunity parity,” which will gauge the fairness of promotions and horizontal movement across demographic groups, Adobe said in a statement.

“We believe these measurements are where businesses, including Adobe, should focus our parity efforts,” Adobe said in an emailed statement. “At the same time, we are disclosing our unadjusted median pay for global gender for the first time and plan to update this number annually. We hope it will be helpful for our investors and moving the overall industry dialogue forward.”

Unlike Citigroup, Starbucks and Mastercard, Adobe hasn’t disclosed the median pay gap by race, and Arjuna is asking the company to provide that data before 2022, Lamb said. Adobe said it may consider additional disclosures in the future.

Mastercard said in March that women made 92% of men’s wages. Starbucks said in December that it was at parity based on median pay. A January update from Citigroup, which was the first company to disclose median pay in 2019, said women made 73% as much as men, an improvement from 71% the year before.

Adobe was among 13 companies Arjuna approached in the 2020 proxy season with shareholder resolutions seeking median pay disclosure. The group has not yet set its list for 2021, Lamb said.

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