Apple Shareholders Vote in Favour of Civil-Rights Audits, Against Board’s Recommendation

At Apple’s (virtual) annual shareholder meeting on Friday, investors voted in favour of an outside proposal mandating audits of the company’s impact on civil rights — reports Bloomberg.

The move marked a rare instance where Apple’s shareholders went against the recommendations of the company’s board of directors. During the meeting, investors also voted to re-elect the company’s incumbent board of directors and approve its executive compensation plan.

After an SEC filing revealed that Apple CEO Tim Cook’s executive compensation for 2021 was close to $100 million, the company’s executive compensation plan faced opposition from a shareholder advisory group seeking to have investors vote against it.

The proposal for civil-rights audits is part of a broader push across industries to track if, and how, corporations contribute to racial inequities. Similar measures have been approved by shareholders at some of the biggest U.S. companies, including Tyson Foods Inc., Citigroup Inc. and BlackRock Inc.

“Now it’s time for Apple to establish an honest third-party civil rights audit of the company’s commitments to equality and fairness,” Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the labour-backed firm SOC Investment Group, said in a statement after the shareholder meeting.

Apple opposed the move, arguing that the Cupertino, California-based company already meets the objectives of the proposal. That includes conducting impact assessments and engaging with communities. The company described the proposal for civil-rights audits as “broad and unfocused.”

“Civil rights is something we care deeply about and always have,” said Cook during the meeting.