For the first time, Apple is facing pressure from its investors regarding employees’ treatment and diversity at the company. Two new reports claim that shareholders have filed proposals to get details on the use of non-disclosure agreements and call for a civil-rights audit of the company.
These proposals are pushed at a time when the U.S. national labor agency has launched an investigation against Apple over workplace discrimination charges filed by former two employees and organizers of the #AppleToo movement; senior engineering program manager Ashley Gjovik and software engineer Cher Scarlett. Gjovik highlighted issues of sexism and gender discrimination at work and Scarlett accused the company of suppressing discussions on pay equity.
Apple to face proposals on non-disclosure agreements and civil rights audit at the annual shareholder meeting in 2022
Reuters reports that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has denied the tech giant’s motion to exclude a shareholder’s proposal which requires Apple to provide details of the use of non-disclosure agreements and other concealment clauses to investors.
Although it is routine for large companies to seek bids to exclude investors’ proposals, this particular ruling by the SEC is significant in light of recent events. The report states:
In September, investor Nia Impact Capital filed a shareholder proposal calling for Apple’s board to prepare a “public report assessing the potential risks to the company associated with its use of concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts.”
Apple in October filed a response with the SEC saying it wanted to exclude the proposal because “the company’s policy is to not use such clauses.”
Breaking her own non-disclosure agreement with the company, whistleblower Scarlett filed a complaint at the SEC against the tech giant for using false statements. She has also refused to withdraw her complaint at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the tech giant’s repressive practices to silence employees.
Furthermore, the group of shareholders (SOC Investment Group teamed up with the Service Employees International Union and Trillium Asset Management) worked on the proposal calling for a civil rights audit of the company. A civil rights audit examines the diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and policies of an organization because of their impact on employees, customers, and communities.
MarketWatch details that the shareholder groups that filed the proposal are dissatisfied with Apple’s decision to shut-on surveys on pay equity, hiring of an executive known for his misogynistic and racist remarks, and the slow growth of diversity at the company.
“It is unclear how Apple plans to address racial inequality in its workforce,” the proposal, shared exclusively with MarketWatch, says. “Apple currently has no Hispanics and only one Black member on its executive team.”
“They’re spending money on racial and mostly philanthropic initiatives and don’t really address the company’s own policies,” Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of SOC, told MarketWatch. “The chief diversity officer is not in the C-suite, and there’s a really low percentage of Black officers in the company. Whatever the company’s doing, it seems like there’s a gap.”
This means that Apple will have to face voting on the proposals at its annual shareholder meeting in 2022. Recently, the Cupertino tech giant changed its policy on Rights to Repair and introduced the Self Service repair program because of pressure from investors and activists. Maybe, this push from investors will bring which might result in meaningful changes for employees who are pushing against the company’s culture of secrecy. and creates a healthier workplace.