Controversial Shareholder Proposal on Apple's Diversity Up for Vote at Annual Meeting

thumbs up thumbs downA controversial shareholder proposal that would mandate Apple increase the racial diversity of its senior management team and board of directors will be up for shareholder consideration at the company's annual meeting in February. Apple's annual proxy statement, published this week by the SEC, reveals that Apple acquiesced to the inclusion of the proposal, submitted by shareholder Antonio Avian Maldonado, II, after the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance published a letter in support of the plan.

With the view that Apple's leadership is "a little bit too vanilla," Mr. Maldonado's proposal states:

Shareholders request that the Board of Directors adopt an accelerated recruitment policy requiring Apple Inc. to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors, two bodies that presently fails to adequately represent diversity (particularly Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and other people of colour).

Apple's Board of Directors, which has included the proposal as "Proposal No. 6" for the annual meeting, recommends shareholders vote against it, arguing that the company has always demonstrated to shareholders that "its commitment to inclusion and diversity" are core values, and noting that existing efforts to improve diversity are already broader and less burdensome than the requirements put forth in the proposal.

While Apple has not responded to the proposal with any specific plans for increasing diversity among senior leadership, the company's Inclusion & Diversity report for 2015 shows slight increases in the number of female and non-white employees company-wide compared to 2014.

Apple's annual meeting will take place at Apple headquarters in Cupertino on February 26, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. PST.