Update: Apple has decided to include the resolution, but recommends voting against it, arguing that its existing diversity policies cover appointments at all levels within the company.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has said that a resolution submitted by an Apple investor to accelerate diversity on the company’s board and among senior execs should be included in proxy materials sent to shareholders. Bloomberg reports that proposal was prompted by a conversation the shareholder had with his teenage son.
The proposal for an “accelerated recruitment policy” was submitted in September by Antonio Avian Maldonado II, who owns 645 Apple shares. He said he was spurred to act after looking at photos of the directors with his teenage son, who asked him why nearly everyone was white.
Apple rejected the proposal, stating that it was an attempt to micromanage recruitment. Apple told the SEC that it was actively trying to attract minorities but “has no power to ensure that its recruits will accept offers.” The SEC, however, does not accept Apple’s position …
The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance said in a Dec. 11 letter that the agency didn’t agree with the company.
While the Commission has no powers to force Apple to have shareholders vote on the resolution, it could potentially bring an enforcement action against the company afterwards if it fails to do so. Bloomberg says that Apple didn’t respond to emails and phone calls, and that the SEC declined to comment on the possibility of sanctions.
Apple publishes an annual diversity report, which this year showed small improvements across the company’s total workforce, with Tim Cook acknowledging that “there is a lot more work to be done.” However, Bloomberg notes that among senior roles – those classified by Apple as Leadership positions (click the tab) – white employees this year increased from 55% to 63%, while there were falls in the percentages of those classifying themselves as Hispanic, black or multi-racial. Among racial minorities, only those listed as Asian saw an increase. Six of Apple’s eight board directors are white.
Cook has repeatedly spoken about the company’s commitment to diversity in its hiring, stating last month that “the best companies in the world will be the most diverse.” Apple also supports the Code2040 fellowship program geared toward increasing diversity in the tech industry.