Late last month at Apple’s shareholders meeting, attendees overwhelmingly sided with Apple in their disagreement with a proposal to improve diversity amongst the company’s leadership.
Natalie Walters of the Street:
In this year’s proposal, Maldonado and Zevin Asset Management requested that Apple be required to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directions. The lack of diversity is a “business risk.”
“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,” the proposal said. In addition, a more diverse board would increase creativity and reduce the “groupthink” at the company, they argued.
Apple argued that its efforts to increase diversity are “much broader” than the “accelerated recruitment policy” that the proposal puts forth. Instead of focusing on Apple’s senior management and Board, the company takes a more “holistic” view extending to anyone who wants to work in the tech sector in the future.
This is the second year running that Antonio Maldonado’s proposal has been shot down, and for a similar reason as last year: Apple seems content with the direction of their current diversity efforts.
Apple’s overwhelmingly white and male1 management team is also one of the closest-watched in the industry. While they haven’t experienced the kind of high-profile top-down discriminatory issues seen at other major tech firms, they do run the same risks as any other somewhat-homogenous ecosystem. They seem to be aware of that, given the way that they’ve improved diversity in new hires, but that doesn’t address more senior management positions.
Improving the diversity of the board would be a big start, as would any changes to the senior management shown on the company’s website. Making these kinds of big strides would show a seriousness to their efforts that, I think, would be more impactful than their half-baked “holistic” statement.