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In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abt continued to show remarkable resilience, adopting policies that promoted balance, flexibility, and equity for our staff to secure their economic well-being during trying times.
One key sign of the company’s resilience, is the share price of our Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP)—one of the oldest ESOPs in the U.S. Our share price increased by double digits during each of the two pandemic years—an impressive feat directly attributed to the outstanding work our staff executed for clients and our strong financial health.
The financial security of our staff is also a top priority for Abt when we assess the company's economic health. In addition to merit increases, we provided a 2.5 percent across-the-board cost of living raise to all U.S. employees to help staff keep up with rising costs in 2021.
Pay equity promotes economic security. Our commitment to equity as an organization led us to adopt a comprehensive action plan anchored in the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) standard. EDGE is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality.
Our EDGE action plan includes a global and comprehensive annual gender pay-gap analysis. Abt's internal standard is to use EDGE's regression model as a best practice to assess gender pay discrepancies—as opposed to salary ratios, which can skew outputs due to currency variations in the countries where we operate. We will continue vigilantly and proactively address pay gaps to ensure equal pay for equal work. In 2021, Abt updated our Compensation and Employee Leave policies to promote access, equity, and flexibility across our workforce. We also enhanced our cultural, ceremonial, and special leave policies and included a new paid volunteer policy for all home office staff globally.
Balance & Flexibility
Balance has long driven our success by ensuring that all employees, regardless of sex or gender identity, are not discriminated against and have equal and flexible opportunities to do their best work. Flexibility is key to developing an inclusive workforce. Increased flexibility helps us attract and retain employees across all age groups and genders, improves employee engagement and productivity, and enhances employee well-being and happiness.
As part of these values, Abt introduced a Paid Parental Leave Policy in Australia and Britain and advanced the quality and equity of benefits offered by U.S. equivalent Family Benefits Policy— expanding coverage to surrogate parenting arrangements, foster care, legal guardianship, and adoption, and removing employment duration requirements before benefits are available.
Due to the success of the two-week flex-work period benefit introduced in the U.S. in 2020—which allows staff to vary their schedules and the amount of time they work daily over 14 days, instead of seven—we scaled and institutionalized the benefit via a Flexible Work Policy applicable to all home offices globally in 2021. The policy enables our staff to be more agile in uncertain times and enables Abt to respond to movements in demographic trends and changing family and household patterns.