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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > SEC backs investor proposal to accelerate diversity on Apple board

SEC backs investor proposal to accelerate diversity on Apple board
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Dec 31, 2015, 02:46 PM
 
Putting pressure on the company to accept an investor resolution, the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month endorsed a proposal that would require Apple to accelerate the recruitment of minorities on the iPhone maker's board of directors and among its senior executives. The agency said that the resolution, submitted by investor Antonio Avian Maldonado II, should be included in the proxy materials sent to shareholders, but Apple has responded by saying the proposal is an attempt at "micro-management."

Apple has made much of its efforts to increase diversity in its workforce, and in recent years has improved the diversity of its executive ranks and board, but at the same time, the company values long-term service very highly in its top ranks, and thus openings at the senior executive or board level tend to happen infrequently. Maldonado said that his proposal came about because his teenaged son noticed that the "leadership" page on Apple's site was dominated by white faces.



While it is fair to say that both the board and senior executive level at Apple is mostly caucasian or European in background, there is still some diversity to be found there: SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is Hispanic, new SVP of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji hails from the Middle East, and both VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson and VP of Human Resources Denise Young Smith are African-American. Jackson and Smith, along with Retail SVP Dame Angela Ahrendts, constitute the only upper-level female executives in the company.

On the board of directors, the most recent appointment, James A. Bell of Boeing, is African-American, and of the eight seats, two are occupied by women: Andrea Jung, who is of Asian heritage but was born in Canada; and Susan Wagner of Blackrock. Nearly all of the diversity changes in the board and SVP or VP levels in the company have come about since the ascension of Tim Cook as CEO of the company in 2011: under former CEO Steve Jobs, both the executive ranks and BOD were composed almost exclusively of white males, despite the important role that women and other minorities have played in the overall history of Apple.

Apple's SVP-level executives
Apple's SVP-level executives


Cook has been vocal that "more work needs to be done" to encourage women and racial minorities to be more visible in the male-dominated tech industry, and to that end has instituted a diversity report, funded scholarships for minorities studying technology skills in colleges, supported diversity initiatives designed to train more veterans and minorities in computer engineering, and made inclusiveness in hiring top candidates a high priority. Apple has thus far rejected the proposal, and told the SEC that it was actively trying to attract minorities but "has no power to ensure that recruits will accept offers."



Apple's response was rebutted by the agency's Division of Corportation Finance in a letter dated December 11, saying it didn't agree with the company's rationale for rejecting the proposal. Should Apple decide to change its stance, it can still recommend shareholders vote against the proposal, though this could result in bad press due to the "optics" of the proposal. The SEC has little power to force Apple to do anything, but could conceivably bring an enforcement action against the company if it believes the rejection of the proposal and hiring patterns at the company are biased against minorities.
     
Inkling
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Dec 31, 2015, 05:00 PM
 
The diversity that Apple leadership needs is economic and work-related. The company needs mothers who don't send their kids to pricey private schools, but instead fret about how their budget-strapped school can afford any technology at all. They're fathers who suspect that Silicon Valley hates them, exports jobs overseas, and wants self-driving cars to put them out of work. Apple's fragile, expensive, almost unrepairable laptops make no sense for most schools. It's proudly proclaimed "Assembled in China" policies (iPhones) aren't going to provide jobs here in America. And when Apple actually builds a server farm in middle America, what does it do? It insists on millions in tax breaks. A company with almost $200 billion in cash reserves shakes down a little town that can't afford to fix the roof on its grade school. That is sick. And equally bad, Apple actually brags about replacing one set of rich, arrogant and out-of-touch people with an identical set of such people with a slightly different skin tone or or lower body plumbing. Adding insult to injury, ordinary Americans must pay taxes to an SEC that flaunts its support for these fake diversity projects. All this is sickening.
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thinkman
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Dec 31, 2015, 09:29 PM
 
My, my, Inkling......... hope it felt good to get all that hate out of your system, even if it had little to do with the topic of this article. Oh, and by the way, your comment does exhibit a complete lack of intelligence. Carry on, troll.
     
mr_strat
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Jan 1, 2016, 12:06 AM
 
Such it is with the Left - choose people based on outward appearance and politically correct behavior instead of merit.
     
Steve Wilkinson
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Jan 1, 2016, 12:30 PM
 
No kidding... unless some bias is discovered that says 'only hire white faces' then this whole diversity push is actually bigoted and racist. As Inkling said, who cares about skin-tone and lower body plumbing? Racists and bigots, that's who. As mr_strat correctly stated, the political Left.

Apparently, insanity reigns...
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robttwo
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Jan 1, 2016, 01:29 PM
 
Inkling:
It's called capitalism. If you don't like, then start your own company, cater to those you mentioned, hire only American workers, never negotiate for better financial considerations when bringing hundreds of jobs into an area. Let me know your company name, I want to follow your success.

Or, stfu until you actually have something to say instead of "give us money, we are entitled."
     
DiabloConQueso
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Jan 1, 2016, 05:59 PM
 
Turn back now, ye who venture here! These comments are a cesspool, and additional ones will probably follow suit.
     
unicast reversepath
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Jan 1, 2016, 07:34 PM
 
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Steve Wilkinson
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Jan 2, 2016, 04:58 PM
 
@ robttwo -
FYI... for capitalism to work, you need a free market. Free markets don't just happen, due to human nature. There need to be checks and balances to keep corporations honest. I don't know Inkling's stance, but just saying...

@ DiabloConQueso -
Racism isn't OK at the convective ends of the spectrum, but it's OK for liberals?
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OldMacGeek
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Jan 2, 2016, 06:35 PM
 
Or, . . . have free reign to hire the most capable people, no matter their color, gender, sexual preference, etc.
     
Charles Martin
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Jan 3, 2016, 01:20 AM
 
OldManGeek: the problem you're overlooking is that "the best people" have access to the best training, best schools, best connections, and so forth. When you don't have any of those things, as most people don't, it takes ten times the effort to get to a point where you're even considered (and that's assuming the company or field you're trying to work in doesn't have a longstanding bias that precludes certain kinds of people).

I think Apple is taking the best approach it can in the present environment: make sure that candidates from all walks of life are considered for present openings, but invest in CREATING a more diverse workforce going forward by reaching out to groups (ranging from veterans to the poor) that are traditionally ignored or underserved with the OPPORTUNITY to get the education and training that will make them contenders. It's not an immediate solution, but in the long term it will do a better job of getting the BEST people into the jobs where they can do great work by giving more people and types of people the OPPORTUNITY to become the best.

I may be misremembering my youth, but that's what I thought America was all about: expanding opportunities, but the hard work of becoming highly qualified so you win those top positions was still down to the individual. That's one of the key reasons why immigrants to the US have traditionally done very well when they were allowed to receive the education and training they needed.
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Steve Wilkinson
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Jan 3, 2016, 03:30 PM
 
re: "make sure that candidates from all walks of life are considered for present openings"

That's the thing... is there an accusation that this was previously not the case? What were they doing 2 months ago, 1 year ago, 2 years ago?

Aside from that, I'm all for doing what we can as a society to provide OPPORTUNITY. But, when that system is short-circuited by short-cuts designed to FORCE diversity, it actually hurts everyone, including those minorities, possibly the most (outside of the few that get a pay-check boost).

re: "but that's what I thought America was all about: expanding opportunities"

Yes, but when you short-circuit that process through forced diversity or social engineering, you don't actually end up with that result. You end up with a facade that might roughly look like that result, until it all falls apart, because it wasn't real.

re: "... but the hard work of becoming highly qualified ... That's one of the key reasons why immigrants to the US have traditionally done very well ...."

Hard work. Creating artificial diversity at an HR level has an opposite effect. It says to person X, who may have worked the hardest of all, you're not getting in because you don't have the right skin color or chromosome makeup to meet our diversity quotas.
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OldMacGeek
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Jan 3, 2016, 04:31 PM
 
Charles, if you're remembering the quota system - where artificial diversity was not only encouraged, but mandated - then you are remembering your youth. As for underserved populations being lifted up in order to properly compete, it's not just education and opportunity that does this, but drive. That is why many immigrants do so well here - they realize what a chance they have been given, and strive to make the most out of it. Luckily, that drive is available to all.
     
DiabloConQueso
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Jan 3, 2016, 05:35 PM
 
"Racism isn't OK at the convective ends of the spectrum, but it's OK for liberals?"

Heh.

I ain't taking that stink bait to get pulled into this sewer of oh-so-unbiased-and-nonpartisan hooha. Go find another fish that you can cram words they obviously didn't say and ideas they obviously don't hold into their mouth and head.
     
jmonty12
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Jan 4, 2016, 12:17 AM
 
Why in the world would the SEC get involved? Workplace equality has nothing to do with making sure the company follows financial rules nor does it protect investors. Government overreach at its worst!
     
Charles Martin
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Jan 4, 2016, 03:53 AM
 
Hi OldMacGeek: I am indeed old enough to remember quotas, but that was intended as a temporary system to quickly address a gross imbalance, and was not seen by proponents as a permanent idea, though it did seem to take root in some places. I certainly agree with your sentiment that ambition is a key factor in success, but of course we can't pretend there are some additional barriers that separate groups from each other that couldn't also be addressed. I think this is the purpose of Apple's overall focus, to help ensure that people who have drive have the opportunity to pursue it.
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Steve Wilkinson
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Jan 5, 2016, 04:15 PM
 
I think it's also a bit telling that when you look at board photos, you see people from English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Irish, etc. backgrounds, yet they are all lumped as 'white guys.' That's pretty culturally insensitive too, if one really cares to respect individual cultures. But again, the 'Left' get to be blatant racists all the time and just toss the term around for rhetorical effect (and, get away with it, because the average brain isn't engaged).

Just ran across this great interview with Sam Harris (who I often disagree greatly with... but he nails it here!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQqxlzHJrU0
37:15 start for context - (38:38-40:38) - (47:46-50:47) - (55:14-57:00). Most of it is actually pretty good. (And, I'm a Christian apologist saying this about one of the New Atheists! But, he's honest enough to see what's going on with the fascism of especially, the Left.)
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