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Apple’s annual shareholders’ meeting has concluded and despite controversies and disagreements, this time it won support for all of the positions it held on every proposal.
The annual shareholders’ meeting is a legal requirement for Apple, and the details of what will be discussed are filed — and disputed — long in advance. In this year’s case, Apple had already agreed to a shareholder demand that it audit its labor practices ahead of this meeting.
That left nine separate proposals, including ones from Apple and from the shareholders. Going in to the meeting, Apple was recommending that all of its proposals should be approved, and that none of the shareholders’ ones should.
General business practices
The first two proposals, all by Apple, were regular business requirements and were even perfunctory. They were regarding the election of directors, and all nine nominated were already on Apple’s board.
Similarly, Apple has previously used Ernst & Young as its auditor, and it successfully proposed retaining the company once more.
The third and fourth proposals were both made by Apple, and both regarded pay. Apple asked shareholders to approve its Executive Compensation plan, which was fundamentally the same as in previous years.
Potentially a little more controversial was the Frequency of Say on Pay Votes. Shareholders get to approve, or not, the details of how Apple’s executives are paid.
It isn’t that every pay raise or stock change gets debated by the full list of shareholders, though. Instead, it was previously done as an annual overall vote, and Apple successfully got it to stay like that.
The fifth proposal discussed was the first to be posed by shareholders. All of the follIt is a Civil Rights and Non-Discrimination Audit Proposal, and at least some shareholders wanted an annual examination of Apple’s impact on these issues.
Apple’s view had been that there was no need for such an annual audit, given the company’s existing approach to pay and diversity. A majority of the shareholders’ meeting was persuaded, and there will be no such audit.
Communist China Audit
A sixth proposal was also tabled by shareholders, and this one related to Apple’s connections with China. Specifically, a number of shareholders wanted an annual audit that specifically reported on how much — and in what ways — Apple remains dependent on China.
Apple is unlikely to ever entirely cease working with China. But Apple successfully argued that it already provides exactly this information in its voluntary reporting, as well as its Securities & Exchange Commission filings.
The seventh proposal saw shareholders seeking a change in Board Policy. It regarded how — and how often — Apple board members may communicate with shareholders.
Apple wanted this proposal rejected because it would place too prescribed limitations, and therefore potentially detract from the Board’s functioning. Apple won this argument too.
Separately to the executive compensation issues, shareholders also tabled a proposal regarding Racial and Gender Pay Gaps. Shareholder and activist investor Arjuna Capital claims that Apple’s reporting ignores “structural bias” against women and minorities.
Apple persuaded a majority of shareholders at the meeting that it already reports sufficiently adequately on pay, inclusion, and diversity.
The final proposal in the meeting regarded Shareholder Proxy Access Amendments. Proxy access concerns the right for shareholders of a company to propose candidates for board director, and in this case the proposal was that they should be able to nominate more than one candidate.
Apple pointed out ahead of the meeting that no shareholders sought changes to the existing rules last year, and so it wanted to reject the proposal.
The company won that section of the meeting, too.
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