Western Digital Corporation: Report on Diversity and Inclusion

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Whereas: Workforce diversity and inclusion, reflecting possible discrimination based upon gender, race and ethnicity is a significant policy issue. The bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission stated that, “[T]he unseen, yet un-breachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements…denies millions of Americans opportunities for economic and personal advancement;”

While the proportion of women in the workforce in 2017 was 48%, in the Computer and Electronic Manufacturing industry it was only 30%. Black and Hispanic workers each comprise 15% of the total workforce but only 5% and 8% respectively in our industry. Women comprise only 20%, and Blacks and Hispanics only 6% combined, of top management ranks;

Our company recognizes as a material risk that “[g]lobal competition for skilled employees in the data storage industry is intense and, as we attempt to move to a position of technology leadership in the storage industry, our business success becomes increasingly dependent on our ability to retain our key staff and skilled employees;” (see: Western Digital Corporation 2018 Form 10-K, p.18)

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) states that, “[d]espite efforts by the industry to improve workforce diversity and inclusion, hardware company workforces are characterized by relatively low representation from women and minority groups. Greater workforce diversity is important for innovation as it helps companies understand the needs of a diverse and global customer base, which results in the ability to design desirable products and communicate with customers effectively;” (see: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. Hardware Sustainability Accounting Standard. INDUSTRY STANDARD | VERSION 2018-10, p.10)

Our company’s website echoes SASB’s assertion: “We thrive on the power and potential of diversity. As a global company, we believe the most effective way to embrace the diversity of our customers and communities is to mirror it from within;”

SASB considers diversity and inclusion in the hardware industry to be a material disclosure topic: “[A]cademic studies suggest that diversity is particularly likely to add value for high-tech, knowledge-intensive companies, indicating that the issue is likely to be material for companies in the Hardware industry.” (see: Hardware Research Brief. Research Briefing Prepared by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. April 2014, p.11)

Yet our company’s disclosures do not provide metrics enabling shareholders or other stakeholders to assess progress in meeting its diversity goals. 

Therefore, be it resolved: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report to shareholders by 180 days after the 2019 Annual Meeting, at reasonable expense and excluding confidential information, assessing the diversity of our company’s workforce.

 Supporting Statement: Proponents recommend that the assessment include,

  •  metrics on the percentage of gender categories for global operations, and the standard EEO-1 racial and ethnic group categories for U.S. operations, disaggregated, at a minimum, into (1) management, (2) technical staff, and (3) all other employees;

  • a description of our policies and programs for fostering equitable employee representation across our global operations.

Resolution Details

Company: Western Digital Corporation

Lead Filers:
As You Sow

Year: 2019

Filing Date: 
May 2019

Initiative(s): Materiality

Status: Withdrawn

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Withdrawal Letter