Apple faces a shareholder proposal on equity reporting at the AGM

A resistant way forward.
Photo: Jerod Harris / Stringer (Getty Images)

Apple is facing shareholder pushback over at least one proposal to be discussed at the annual shareholders’ meeting on March 10.

The iPhone maker is urging shareholders to vote in favor of all management proposals, including electing boards of directors, choosing EY as an accounting firm, approving executive pay and the annual frequency of the “Say to payment”vote, a system first established in 2009 that allows shareholders to vote on executive compensation.

When it comes to shareholder proposals, however, the Cupertino giant recommends vote against allincluding one pertaining to how the company reports on racial and gender wage disparities, at its 2023 annual shareholders’ meeting, which will take place virtually from 9 a.m. Pacific time.

Mapped: Apple’s stance on shareholder proposals

Why isn’t Apple sharing more about racial and gender wage differences?

In some cases, Apple justifies its objections to shareholder proposals by appealing to a desire to avoid recurrence. For example, a second civil rights audit is considered “superfluous and unnecessary” if one is already underway, the company said. When it comes to activities in China, Apple already shares disclosures with the SEC, makes voluntary disclosures, and the board actively monitors risks in the region.

However, when it comes to equity management, activist investor Arjuna Capital believes the company could do more, and plans to submit a shareholder proposal that would expand the company’s current reporting. “Apple only reports statistically adjusted differences, but ignores unadjusted differences, which address structural biases faced by women and minorities regarding employment opportunities and pay, especially when men hold most of the higher paying jobs,” it points out.

The activist investor is calling on the billion-dollar company to expose average pay gaps instead, arguing that they would “quite literally show how Apple values ​​employees through the roles they occupy and the pay they receive. ” It’s also a “digestible and comparable data point to determine progress over time.” Asset manager Schroders agrees and announced its support for the proposal.

Apple said it promotes pay equality by not asking candidates about compensation history, developing job offers based on the pay of current Apple employees in similar positions, making robust annual disclosures and investing in strong programs and policies to foster an inclusive culture. to improve. The company objects to Arjuna Capital’s proposal on the following grounds:

“Given the comprehensive approach we have and continue to take toward equal pay, and given the diverse roles in our workforce and global operations, we do not believe a single median pay figure is a meaningful measure for Apple. This metric is intended to compare the median of two employees whose compensation falls halfway through a pay distribution and does not take into account valid factors that affect compensation, such as role, skills, qualifications, location, country, performance, and experience. Our shareholders do not need a substitute measure of our progress towards a more inclusive workforce. We publish annual reports on our representation data on our Inclusion and Diversity website and have programs to increase representation as well as active governance oversight in this area.

In numbers: Diversity measured at Apple…

…by Arjuna Capital

56% vs. 43%: Minorities in the Apple workforce vs. in Apple’s leadership

35% vs. 31%: Women in the Apple workforce vs. in Apple’s leadership

…by Apple

74%: Increase in the number of Apple employees from underrepresented communities in the US between 2014 and 2021

80%: Increase in number of Apple employees from underrepresented leadership communities in the US between 2014 and 2021

89%: Increase in the number of female Apple employees worldwide between 2014 and 2021

87%: Increase in the number of female Apple employees worldwide between 2014 and 2021

Interested party: Al Gore on Apple’s board of directors

In filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), nonprofit National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has urged shareholders to vote against Al Gore’s 21st term on the company’s Board of Directors. The climate change expert, who joined Apple’s board of directors in 2003, “has little success in technology, finance or leadership,” according to NLPC.

“Gore’s climate predictions were largely incorrect; he lives a hypocritical carbon intensive lifestyle; and his climate activism has been a tool for his personal enrichment, much of which depends on industries whose very existence depends on government tax credits and subsidies,” the group said. “In addition, he remains vocal and active on progressive political issues, jeopardizing Apple’s apolitical reputation.”

The activist investor, in other documents, asked to Tim Cook is being ousted from the board, citing a conflict of interest in putting the CEO on the board, and is leading the charge for greater transparency around Apple’s China operations.

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