Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the grand opening of Apple’s new store at The Grove on November 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

On Friday, Apple shareholders approved a proposal that said the company’s board would conduct a third-party audit, review the company’s policies and make recommendations to improve its impact on civil rights. Apple opposed the proposal.

Apple shareholders typically vote as management recommends, so the statement is a sign that most investors believe Apple can improve as it addresses issues such as gender equality, diversity of leadership and product-related privacy. like AirTags, all of which were mentioned in the sentence.

The proposal comes after a period in which Apple faced societal challenges in the Gender Equality Survey conducted by former employee Sher Scarlett, despite Apple’s position that it has a gender and racial gender equality policy, and reported on diversity indicators , which showed that Hispanic and black employees represent only a small percentage of technology employees and management roles at Apple.

SOC Investment Group, which backed the proposal with the International Union of Employees and Trillium Management, welcomed the approval and said it would help investors monitor whether Apple’s actions are in line with its public relations.

“We’ll take the company’s own performance and say,‘ Okay, how are you fulfilling your own commitments? ’” Said Dieter Weisner, CEO of SOC. “Does your activity really move the needle? Is it just PR?”

Weisneger said the statement shows an increase in the willingness of major investors to vote for shareholder proposals related to management in major public companies. Last year, Microsoft hired a law firm to review its sexual harassment policy after its shareholders approved the proposal at a general meeting.

“These big investors really recognize the value of such reports and audits,” Weisner said.

Although the offer is of a recommendatory nature, Weisenegger said, shareholders usually hold the company’s board accountable when something is adopted by a majority vote of shareholders.

Apple said it was already meeting the objectives of the proposal through its current policy, and a spokesman declined to comment.

“Apple is already meeting the objectives of the proposal in several ways, including through impact and risk assessment, active management and oversight of the Board, engaging with our communities and key stakeholders, and regular transparent public reporting,” said its Apple trustee.

The proposal was accepted with the support of just under 54% of shareholders who voted and did not abstain, the SEC said on Friday.

At a meeting on Friday, Apple shareholders approved the company’s compensation plan, including a recent grant from CEO Tim Cook of up to 1 million Apple shares, and re-elected the company’s board. Five other shareholder proposals were rejected.

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