Shareholders request that Union Pacific Corporation Union Pacific publish annually a report at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information assessing the Companys diversity and inclusion efforts. At a minimum the report should include: the process that the Board follows for assessing the effectiveness of its diversity equity and inclusion programs; the Board's assessment of program effectiveness as reflected in any goals, metrics and trends related to its promotion, recruitment and retention of protected classes of employees.
Numerous studies have pointed to the corporate benefits of a diverse workforce. These include:
- Companies with the strongest racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians.
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability and 27 percent more likely to have superior value creation.
- A 2019 study of the S&P 500 by the Wall Street Journal found that the 20 most diverse companies had an average annual five year stock return that was 5.8 percent higher than the 20 least-diverse companies.
Despite such benefits, significant barriers exist for diverse employees advancing within their careers. Women enter the workforce in almost equal numbers as men (48 percent). However, women comprise only 22 percent of the executive suite. Similarly, people of color comprise 33 percent of entry level positions, but only 13 percent of the c-suite.
On its website, Union Pacific states, "Union Pacific's commitment to diversity and inclusion is based on our desire to create an environment where people can be their best, personally and professionally. From an employee's perspective, a diverse culture increases engagement, improves morale and supports safety. From a business perspective, diversity improves the company's decision making, problem solving, and strategic thinking, which translates into a competitive advantage with bottom-line results."
Despite this statement, Union Pacific has not released meaningful information that allows investors to determine the effectiveness of its human capital management programs related to workplace diversity. Stakeholders may become concerned that Union Pacific's statements are corporate puffery, language described by the United States Federal Trade Commission as marketing exaggerations intended to "puff up" companies or products and not able to be relied upon by consumers and investors.
Investor desire for information on this issue is significant. As of October, 2020, USD1.9 trillion in represented assets released an Investor Statement on the importance of increased corporate transparency on workplace equity data. It stated: It is essential that investors have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information related to diverse workplace policies, practices, and outcomes.
Investors seek quantitative, comparable data to understand the effectiveness of the company's diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.