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Apple shareholders reject proposals from conservative groups

Published 03/10/2023, 12:49 PM
Updated 03/10/2023, 05:00 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of U.S. technology company Apple is seen at a branch office in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) -Apple Inc shareholders on Friday rejected two proposals put forth by conservative U.S. groups focused on scrutinizing the iPhone maker's inclusion and diversity policies and its ties to China.

Shareholders meanwhile approved the company's executive pay packages, with 89% of votes cast in favor. In January, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reduced Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook's pay and made it more dependent on stock performance.

The unsuccessful diversity proposal, brought by the National Center for Public Policy Research, would have required Apple to consult right-leaning public interest groups in examining its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies.

"DEI is overtly bigoted against men, white people and straight people by falsely assuming that they are inherently — and irredeemably — racist and sexist oppressors," Ethan Peck, who presented the proposal, said in a statement.

Apple argued that the proposal mischaracterized its policies and said such an examination would be redundant because it is already conducting a civil rights audit. The proposal lost with 98.5% of shareholders who cast votes opposing it.

The National Legal and Policy Center, another conservative group, asked Apple to scrutinize its dependence on, and vulnerability to China. Apple recommended against the measure, saying that the iPhone maker already discloses a list of suppliers in China and information about human rights in an annual report. More than 95% of shareholders who cast votes opposed the measure.

While both those measures failed, shareholders re-elected Apple's board of directors and approved its use of Ernst & Young as its independent audit firm.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of U.S. technology company Apple is seen at a branch office in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

During a question-and-answer session with shareholders, Cook said that Apple continued to plan for dividend increases. On how Apple plans to respond to changing economic conditions, Cook noted that the company's operating expenses came in below its forecast during its most recently-reported quarter.

"But most important, and I can't stress this enough, we're continuing to invest in innovation, whatever the near-term economic picture looks like," Cook said during the meeting.

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