Last year, an Apple shareholder introduced a diversity resolution that would require Apple to “increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors.”
Apple shareholders voted down the resolution 94.9% to 5.1%.
But the person who introduced the resolution, investor Tony Maldonado, reintroduced a version of the resolution again this year, and he even recruited up a “socially responsible” investment firm, Zvin Asset Management, to cosign the resolution.
In an interview with The Verge, Maldonado explained why he’s pressing to change Apple’s recruitment practices, especially with respect to diversity.
It turns out, Maldonado is not your typical diversity advocate. In fact, he’s a President Trump supporter.
“Maldonado, who is Hispanic, makes a pure business case for diversity. He identifies as a “fiscally conservative, socially moderate person,” clarifies that he doesn’t want this turned into “a social justice warrior issue,” and says he’s simply “looking at things in black and white in terms of money.” He’s also a “diehard” Trump supporter, who ends many of his tweets with “#MAGA” and says he both donated to and volunteered for the campaign.
“I know it sounds as if it’s socially progressive, but it’s not a socially progressive issue,” he says. “Money talks, ok?””
But despite his political views, Maldonado still sees the lack of diversity on Apple’s leadership team to be “racism, plan and simple.” Ultimately, he says, this racism will make Apple a less successful business.
In Apple’s most recent diversity report, it said 68% of its global employees are male, and 56% are white. Black and Hispanic Apple employees make up 21% of its workforce, although that includes Apple’s retail operation, which offers lower salaries than Apple corporate.
The resolution is unlikely to pass. It will need to receive 6% of the vote to be resubmitted next year, according to Maldonado. Apple will hold its shareholder’s meeting on February 28.
Apple opposes the proposal. “Apple believes it is better to focus our efforts on actively supporting our communities than to divert time and resources to the preparation of a report that would have limited value to shareholders,” it wrote.
Read the entire interview over at the Verge. Below is the entire shareholder proposal:
Shareholders request that the Board of Directors adopt an accelerated recruitment policy requiring Apple Inc. (the “Company”) to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors, two bodies that presently fail to adequately represent diversity and inclusion (particularly Hispanic, African American, Native American and other people of colour).
Stockholder Supporting Statement
The tech industry is characterised by the persistent and pervasive underrepresentation of minorities and women in senior positions as detailed in a 2014 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report. According to a USA Today analysis of 2014 Computing Research Association data, “[t]op universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them.”1 The Company is at an advantageous position to be a leader in promoting diversity in senior management and its board of directors, based on its size, breadth and position as one of the largest companies in the world.
Shareholders are concerned that low levels of diversity at the Company’s senior management and board level, as well as painstakingly slow improvements, are a business risk.
According to the Company’s website, “Diversity is critical to innovation and it is essential to Apple’s future.”2 Further, the Company has stated in multiple Proxy Statements that it is “committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen.”
Shareholders believe that companies with comprehensive diversity programs, and strong commitment to implementation, enhance their long-term value, reducing the Company’s potential legal and reputational risks associated with workplace discrimination and building a reputation as a fair employer. Equally, shareholders believe the varied perspectives of a diverse senior management and board of directors would provide a competitive advantage in terms of creativity, innovation, productivity and morale, while eliminating the limitations of “groupthink”, as it would recognise the uniqueness of experience, strength, culture and thought contributed by each; strengthening its reputation and business. This is confirmed by McKinsey & Company, which found companies with highly diverse executive teams had higher returns on equity and earnings performance than those with low diversity, and a May 2014 study found gender diverse teams were better at driving “radical innovation”. “Diversity helps companies react more effectively to market shifts and new customer needs.”