Amazon says it pays women and men equally

Commerce secretary: Women entrepreneurs need access to capital
Commerce secretary: Women entrepreneurs need access to capital

At Amazon, women earn just about the same amount of money as men do. The same goes for minorities and whites.

In a survey of its staff, Amazon (AMZN) found that women made 99.9% of men's earnings in equivalent positions last year. Minorities even made slightly more than whites, taking home 100.1% of what Caucasians earned.

"There will naturally be slight fluctuations from year to year, but at Amazon we are committed to keeping compensation fair and equitable," an Amazon spokesman said in a statement.

The survey was the result of a proposal from Arjuna Capital, an activist shareholder that's part of Boston-based Baldwin Brothers investment company.

Arjuna successfully lobbied Amazon to cough up its pay disparity data. Amazon had initially petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to withhold that information, but the SEC turned down Amazon's request earlier in the month.

As a result, Amazon released the survey results, preempting Arjuna's shareholder proposal. Arjuna is in the process of withdrawing its proposal.

"After an initially defensive response, Amazon is stepping up to the plate and making a public commitment to gender pay equity," said Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at Arjuna Capital. "It's good for the company, it's good for employees, and it's good for shareholders."

Arjuna says its mission is to "advance the understanding of what sustainability means for investor returns and corporate profitability." It pushes companies to believe that equal pay and environmentally friendly policies are good business.

Related: Yes, men earn more than women

Amazon is the latest in a string of recent victories for Lamb and Arjuna.

On Thursday, Arjuna announced that it successfully got Expedia (EXPE) to disclose its policies and goals to address the gender pay gap. Expedia will also disclose its pay disparity information by October 2016.

Apple (AAPL) and Intel (INTC) agreed to Arjuna's demands last year to commit to pay parity.

"What we know is that a 'trust me, women are paid fairly' approach is not enough, and a defensive approach to gender pay equity will not solve the problem," Lamb said.

Eventually, companies will have to start disclosing this information anyway. In January, President Obama ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to begin collecting companies' pay data, broken down by sex, ethnicity and race.

Nationally, women earn just 79% of what men take home.

Arjuna also scored wins against Exxon (XOM) and Chevron (CVX), after the SEC rejected the oil companies' attempts to exclude Arjuna's climate change shareholder proposals.

CNNMoney Sponsors