Skip to main content
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Full Article

Does Information about Gender Pay Matter to Investors? An Experimental Investigation

Journal(s): Accounting, Organizations and Society
Published: April 1, 2021
Author(s): Chelsea Rae Austin, Donna D.Bobek, Ling L.Harris

General Description
Gender pay information affects retail investors’ perceived fairness of a company’s compensation policies, which leads investors to anticipate economic consequences to the company. Retail investors are more willing to invest in a company with gender pay equity and retail investors do not appear to punish a company that disclose a typical gender pay gap. Moreover, retail investors attribute about half of the actual U.S. pay gap to gender discrimination.

Academic Abstract
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that a male favoring pay gap exists in every one of its member countries. To reduce the gender pay gap, governments and investors are demanding that companies disclose gender pay information. While companies seem to resist these demands, there is little evidence about how investors might react to the disclosure of gender pay information. We draw on theories of fairness and the instrumental perspective of corporate social responsibility activities to predict how the disclosure of gender pay information influences investor judgments. Our experimental findings indicate investors are more willing to invest in a company that discloses gender pay equity compared to either a company disclosing a gender pay gap or one disclosing no gender pay information. Further, our mediation analyses results show a sequential mediation process whereby the gender pay disclosure affects perceptions of fairness (economic consequences) directly (indirectly through fairness), with only perceptions of the economic consequences resulting from the gender pay disclosure directly influencing willingness to invest. In addition, despite the presence of the same sequential mediation relationship, we find limited evidence investors are less willing to invest in a company that discloses a typical gender pay gap compared to a company disclosing no gender pay information. Two additional experiments indicate it is the information about gender pay, not its disclosure by the company, that influences investors; and the effect is intentional. Our results are consistent with investors anticipating real economic consequences from the disclosure of gender pay information.

Access Research Paper

Latest accountancy Research

Recruiting Dark Personalities for Earnings Management
Journal(s): Journal of Business Ethics
Published: March 2, 2021
CoB Author(s): Ling Lin Harris
Do Debt Investors Adjust Financial Statement Ratios When Financial Statements Fail to Reflect Economic Substance?
Journal(s): Contemporary Accounting Research
Published: October 13, 2020
CoB Author(s): Jimmy F. Downes