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Apple’s board rejects diversity proposal as ‘unduly burdensome and not necessary’

Three people on Apple's eight board of directors are black or female

Alexandra Sims
Sunday 17 January 2016 16:37
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Apple’s executive team is overwhelming white and male
Apple’s executive team is overwhelming white and male

Apple’s board of directors has rejected a new diversity proposal calling it “unduly burdensome”, despite the board being predominantly made up of white men.

The proposal, submitted by Apple shareholder Antonio Avian Maldonado, called for an accelerated recruitment policy to change the organisational make-up of both the senior management and its board of directors.

Mr Maldonado’s proposal criticises Apple for being “painstakingly slow” to increase its representation of minorities in its leadership and board, urging it to prioritise the recruitment of Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and other people of colour in particular.

At present there are eight people on Apple’s board of directors. Two are women – Andrea Jung, president of Grameen America, and Susan Wagner, co-founder of BlackRock – and one is a black man – James Bell, former president of Boeing (BA). The rest are white men.

Apple’s executive team is also overwhelming white and male. Out of 18 positions three are women – two of whom are black. The other 15 are filled by white men.

In a proxy statement published on 6 January, ahead of a February shareholder meeting, the board said they voted “against” the proposal, believing it to be “unduly burdensome and not necessary because Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company.”

The rejection comes after Apple released a diversity report in August with the company's CEO Tim Cook noting, “we know there is a lot more work to be done”.

In 2015, Apple reported that 54% of its US employees, including its retail staff, were white – up only slightly from 54 per cent in 2014 .

Apple cite its on-going diversity efforts in the proxy statement, which include providing scholarships for black students attending historically black colleges and universities; giving iPads, MacBooks and Apple TVs to under-served US schools, and sponsoring the Grace Hopper conference for women in technology.

The company adds it “actively seeks out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which Board nominees are chosen.”

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