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Women at Citigroup have made strides, just not to top ranks

Gender pay gap may persist for 200 years

Citigroup on Wednesday revealed that women at the fourth-largest U.S. bank earn 29 percent less than men, becoming the first U.S. company to disclose the gap in pay based on gender across its entire workforce.

The company previously released data showing that female employees earn 99 percent of what their male peers do for similar jobs. By contrast, the new numbers point to the relative lack of women in upper management at Citi, an imbalance found across the financial industry and in particular on Wall Street.

"The fact of the matter is financial services is a heavily male-dominated field, and women aren't inhabiting the highest-paying jobs and leadership positions," said Natasha Lamb, managing partner of Arjuna Capital. "So there is a structural incongruency in terms of how the money is being allocated."  

"I am quite sure there are pay gaps at other companies, and this is not a Citi problem -- it's an industry and societal problem, and the first step to improving that number is disclosing it," she added.

The analysis also shows that minorities at Citi earn 7 percent less than non-minority employees.     

The bank disclosed the compensation data in response to a shareholder proposal from Arjuna, which focuses on so-called ethical investing.

Citi last year compared women's compensation at the company to men's, but adjusted pay based on employees' job functions, seniority and location. It also compared the pay of minorities to non-minorities and found no gap.

Lamb said it is important to consider both measures -- equal pay for equal work, and overall comp -- in trying to close the gender pay gap. One 2018 analysis found that women earn 49 cents compared for every $1 earned by men, though other studies find a narrower gap, at roughly 80 cents.

Women earn less than half of men's income

The gender pay gap costs the economy $1.12 trillion annually, according to World Economic Forum estimates.   

"This new level of transparency provides investors with baseline metrics to understand broad pay equity at the company, that is, the difference between what men make and what women make, and what minorities and non-minorities make on a median, unadjusted basis," Lamb said.

Citi said it is committed to increasing the number of women in mid to senior-level roles over the next few years.  

"This reiterates the importance of our goals to increase representation of women and U.S. minorities in senior and high-paying roles at Citi. That is how we will reduce the difference in our pay gap numbers over time," said Sara Wechter, head of human resources.

The company's goal is to increase female representation at the assistant vice president through managing director levels to 40 percent by 2021.