Apple pushes back against shareholder diversity demands

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diversity Apple
Apple needs to step up its diversity game, a small group of shareholders claim.
Photo: Apple

A small group of Apple investors think the company isn’t doing enough to improve its racial and gender diversity quotas, and suggest that Apple needs to step up its pace.

For the second time, investor Tony Maldonado has filed a shareholder proposal asking Apple to, “adopt an accelerated recruitment policy … to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors.”

It seems Apple disagrees, though.

“Some of the excuses given by Apple and others — there’s not sufficient people in the pipeline, this and that,” Maldonado told The Verge. “Excuse my language, it’s bul****t.”

If the proposal is approved, Apple would have to tie its executive pay to its diversity goals, much as Intel and Microsoft are doing, and would also have to push to appoint new board members from diverse backgrounds. Alongside Maldonado, backing the the proposal is “socially responsible investing” firm Zevin Asset Management.

Tony Maldonado filed a similar proposal back in late 2015, claiming that Apple’s executive team was “a little bit too vanilla.” It was shot down by Apple shareholders, but achieved enough of a vote (5.1 percent, which is above the necessary 3 percent threshold) for him to have been able to submit the proposal again this year.

The proposal will be voted on at an Apple shareholder meeting on February 28. This time, Maldonado needs to gain 6 percent of the vote in order to be able to resubmit in 2018. If he does not, Apple would be spared from hearing similar proposals for a period of three years.

Apple, for its part, says that it has made “steady progress in attracting more women and underrepresented minorities,” and increased diversity guidance isn’t necessary because “we have already demonstrated our commitment to a holistic view of inclusion and diversity.”

Like much of the rest of the tech and corporate world, Apple has been pushed to improve its diversity figures in recent years. According to Apple’s latest stats, white males continue to dominate the upper ranks of the company, but further down the ladder 54 percent of new hires in the U.S. come from minority backgrounds.

For more information on the company’s success in this area so far, you can check out its dedicated Diversity page, which also shares the personal story of some of its employees, as well as its stance on pay equity among men and women.