McKinsey & Company found companies with highly diverse executive teams had higher returns on equity and earnings performance than those with low diversity.
Palo Alto Network states that its “commitment to women in technology is evident through our partnerships with the Anita Borg Institute and other organizations promoting diversity”.
However, the Company does not disclose workforce data or share results of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Lack of diversity among high tech workers is a central public policy concern according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 2014, the Commission reported that the high-tech sector employed a larger share of whites, Asian Americans, and men, and a smaller share of African-Americans, Hispanics and women than the “overall private industry”.
Industry peers including Cisco and HP provide EEO-1 data. Intel discloses EEO-1 data and diversity goals. In 2015, the company set a public, time-bound goal for hiring women and underrepresented minorities and tied a portion of employee variable compensation to achieving its goal. In August 2015 Intel reported that it exceeded its target of 40 percent hires of women, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans in the first six months of the year.
More than two dozen startups and venture capital firms, motivated by the efforts of Kapor Capital, have begun sharing strategies and setting diversity metrics.
Further, research from Mercer confirms that improving gender diversity will require attention to closing the gender pay gap. And, owing to concern about gender and racial wage disparities, the EEOC announced in January 2016 a proposed rule to stem wage discrimination by collecting pay data by gender, race and ethnicity.
Expanding workforce diversity and closing the wage gap requires policies that attract and retain diversity in the workplace. A company’s family leave policies, for example, can play a role. McKinsey reports that paid parental leave and the availability of on-site child care can impact women’s ability to move into higher productivity roles. 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 create workforces necessary to compete effectively. In our view, companies that are publicly accountable to diversity goals are most likely to make rapid progress toward achieving those goals.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Palo Alto Networks prepare a diversity report, at 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 diversity in the workplace.
Supporting Statement: A report adequate for investors to assess strategy and performance would include a review of appropriate time-bound benchmarks for judging current and future progress, and details of practices designed to reduce unconscious bias in hiring and to build mentorship among staff of color.