Apple Makes Diversity Changes in Corporate Bylaws Following Criticism
After facing pressure for major shareholders to add more female directors and executives, Apple has updated its corporate bylaws to address any criticism it faced. The company added language to its corporate charter vowing to diversify the board.
“There is a general problem with diversity at the highest echelon of Apple,” said Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Boston-based Trillium, which manages $1.3 billion. “It’s all white men.”
Only 17 percent of board seats on Fortune 500 companies and 15 percent of executive officer positions were held by women in 2013, according to a report last month by Catalyst Inc., a non-profit researcher.
“There is a lot of room for improvement,” said Larisa Ruoff, who runs shareholder advocacy and corporate engagement for the Sustainability Group, which manages more than $1 billion as part of Loring Wolcott & Coolidge Trust LLC. “We live in an increasingly complex global marketplace, and the companies that can hire, attract and retain women and people of color are better equipped to capitalize on global opportunities and avoid missteps that may not be apparent to a more homogeneous group.”
According to the report, various Apple representatives met with shareholders who were concerned about the lack of female executives to address the issue. The shareholders were going to bring it up for a vote at the next meeting, but held off once Apple updated the new language in the corporate charger.
Apple is now adding the following language to the charter of the board’s nominating and governance committee: “The nominating committee is committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen.”
Andrea Jung, former CEO of Avon Products Inc., is the lone woman and person of color on Apple’s board, which includes seven white men all over the age of 50.
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