Apple CEO Tim Cook had a meeting today with his many bosses: Apple shareholders. He answered questions about dividends, COVID-19 and more.
And a vote at the Apple 2022 shareholders meeting requires the Board of Directors to carry out an audit of the company’s civil rights policies. But several other proposals were voted down.
1. Most shareholder proposals voted down
While Cook and other executives run Apple, shareholders actually own it. And they get to make decisions. There were six proposals that would have required Apple to reexamine the ways it does business, but the only one that passed a shareholder vote requires an audit into whether the company’s policies have a negative impact on the civil rights of its employees and customers.
Among the proposals voted down by shareholders was one requesting a report on Apple’s use of NDAs as concealment clauses in cases of harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts. A group of U.S. state treasurers has requested the Securities and Exchange Commission to look into whether NDAs are being used to silence whistleblowers at the Mac-maker. Apple’s response is that it does not use NDAs in this way, and most shareholders agree.
2. More dividends
The Q&A session after the voting is typically the most interesting part of the annual Apple shareholders meeting. Cook takes questions submitted by people who own shares, though it’s obvious these are carefully chosen to avoid controversial topics. He’s not going to blurt out which products are going to be announced at the March 8 product-release event, for example.
But one answer will surely warm the hearts of many an investor. “The dividend will be raised this year.” The CEO was specifically asked about how much money would be given to shareholders, and he gave a straight answer. Though he didn’t say how much of an increase.
But Cook also pointed out that “to be clear, dividends are not the only way — or even the primary way — that we create value for shareholders. We do that by investing in innovation and in the technological breakthroughs we think will help people, and enrich their lives.”
3. One of Apple’s keys to success is saying “no”
Apple is an enormously profitable company, and Cook was asked to lay out his keys to that success. What he described is something of a balancing act.
“We are constantly innovating on behalf of the user. We believe in bringing together hardware, software and services to make technology that’s greater than the sum of its parts. We believe in saying no to hundreds of projects, so that we can really focus on the ones that will make the biggest difference in people’s lives. We believe the world’s best technology should be great for people and the planet,” said Apple’s chief executive.
4. Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic
When asked how Apple management sees the post-COVID world, Cook pointed out that the pandemic changed everything… and that’s good. He said, “I don’t think there’s anything more valuable than periodically having to reinvent how we work. How we work is fundamental to how we collaborate, and how we create technology that enriches people’s lives. I think we’ve learned a lot about both of those things during the pandemic. And seeing the role our technology has played has only motivated us more to push the boundaries of innovation and to make our technology even more useful.”
Other 2022 Apple shareholders meeting business
The 2022 Apple shareholders meeting includes some routine. Part of that involved approving the recommended members of board of directors, which includes Tim Cook and Al Gore.
And shareholders also approved the proposed executive compensation plan. That includes paying the CEO $98.7 million. There was some pushback on giving Cook that much compensation before the meeting, but nothing came of it.