Apple to face a third-party civil-rights audit and provide report on use of NDAs

At its 2022 shareholders meeting, Apple’s investors went against the board’s recommendation and voted in favor of a civil-rights audit and a public report on the use of NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). Both were outside proposals.

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In December 2021, it was reported that investors will put two proposals related to the treatment of departing employees and diversity at the company. Based on information shared and cases filed by leaders of the #AppleToo movement, it was made public that the tech giant does not permit employees to discuss issues like pay equity, discrimination, and harassment. It was also reported that the tech giant uses NDAs to keep employees quiet after it had told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) otherwise. 

Investors gain “an honest” third-party civil-rights audit of Apple 

In opposition to the shareholders’ recommendations, Apple argued that it already meets the objectives of the civil-rights audit proposal and called it “board and unfocused”. Against the proposal on concealment clauses, the tech giant said that the employees are permitted to discuss “unlawful” acts like harassment and discrimination and agreed that it will include additional wording to highlight that in the separation agreements. 

However, the company’s recommendation did not convince the shareholders and both proposals were approved which are deemed as an opportunity for the tech giant to prove its commitment to fairness and equality. Bloomberg reports that; 

“Now it’s time for Apple to establish an honest third-party civil-rights audit of the company’s commitments to equality and fairness,” Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the labor-backed firm SOC Investment Group, said in a statement after the meeting.


At the meeting, shareholders re-elected the board members, the company’s law firm, and CEO Tim Cook’s $99 million bonus for 2021 which was opposed by two strong groups: Norway’s oil fund and Institutional Shareholders Services (ISS). 

Apple’s board, which includes Cook, Chairman Arthur Levinson and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, sailed to reelection without incident. Investors also approved continuing to use Ernst & Young LLP as Apple’s accounting firm.

Some outside groups, including Institutional Shareholder Services, have voiced concerns about Cook’s roughly $99 million compensation package, but a majority of shareholders voted to approve it. 

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