Apple investors call for civil rights audit | the islander

Apple shareholders are urging the iPhone maker to submit to an independent audit assessing its treatment of women and minority workers, issuing a rare rebuke to a management team that runs the world’s most valuable company .

The measure, passed at Apple’s annual meeting, is non-binding, so the company is not required to adopt the recommendation.

But denying the wishes of its shareholders would put Apple in an uncomfortable position, especially since the company has long presented itself as a champion of civil rights. CEO Tim Cook reiterated that belief on Friday during the meeting held remotely.

“I’ve long believed that inclusion and diversity are essential on their own,” Cook said. “And that a diversity of people, experiences and ideas is the foundation of all new innovation.”

Like other big tech companies, Apple’s workforce — especially in high-paying tech roles — is made up mostly of white and Asian men, an imbalance the industry has been trying to address for many years. .

Apple’s board had opposed the shareholder proposal calling for a civil rights audit that would eventually be made public. The company pointed to its recent civil rights advances inside and outside of Apple that it said made a third-party audit of its practices unnecessary.

Among the initiatives, Apple pledged $130 million to a racial equity and justice fund following the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The company also says it is increasing pay for women and minority employees while hiring more women, blacks and Hispanics.

At Friday’s meeting, Cook said Apple has achieved gender pay equity every year since 2017 and now has racial pay equity in the United States.

He also said that 59% of Apple’s leadership positions over the past year have been filled by people from “underrepresented communities.”

But supporters of the civil rights proposal insisted that Apple was not doing enough, forcing outsiders to investigate recurring reports of sexual harassment, discriminatory practices and other abuses within the company. company, which employs 154,000 people worldwide.

The proposal gained momentum after Apple last year hired a former Facebook product manager, Antonio Garcia Martinez, to join its advertising team – a move that sparked an outcry among employees who hired him. accused of making misogynistic and racist remarks in a 2016 book called “Chaos”. Monkeys.” Apple quickly cut ties with Garcia Martinez after the backlash.

Apple shareholders have generally been enthusiastic supporters of the company which is currently worth nearly $2.7 trillion, with big gains during the pandemic.

Still, the proposal for a civil rights audit of Apple has won support from two consulting firms that often sway the votes of institutional shareholders. The audit proposal was supported by 5.13 million shares and opposed by 4.45 million shares, with 131.2 million shares abstaining, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing filed by Apple.

Australian Associated Press

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