Maldonado is leading an effort to mandate that Apple accelerate its work toward becoming a more diverse company. For the second year in a row, he's submitted a shareholder proposal asking that Apple "adopt an accelerated recruitment policy ... to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors."
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If approved, Apple would have to prioritize diversity at the top levels of its organization. How exactly it accomplishes that, and on what timeline, would be entirely up to Apple — but it'd have to do something. Maldonado says that could include tying executive pay to diversity goals, as Intel and Microsoft have done, or adopting a board refreshment policy, requiring the company to regularly explore potential new board members from diverse backgrounds.
This year, Maldonado is submitting his proposal alongside Zevin Asset Management, an investment firm that specializes in "socially responsible investing." While that amplifies Maldonado's voice, it still doesn't give him anywhere near the Apple holdings needed to pass the proposal. Maldonado and Zevin will need help from other investors. And right now, there's a major voice standing in their way: Apple.
In a filing with the SEC, Apple's board wrote a note recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal. The company argues that it already has "much broader" diversity efforts at work and, in the past three years, has made "steady progress in attracting more women and underrepresented minorities." The proposed policy, Apple concludes, "is not necessary or appropriate because we have already demonstrated our commitment to a holistic view of inclusion and diversity."
Apple declined a request for further comment.
The company's answer isn't good enough for Maldonado. He says Apple is leaning too heavily on retail stores to improve its diversity figures while doing little at the senior level (82 percent of Apple's leadership is white, versus only 56 percent of its retail employees). If that practice continues, Maldonado fears it'll hurt Apple's business in the years to come.