Apple Seeks to Block Shareholder Proposals on Environment and Human Rights Given Its Existing Focus on Those Issues

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Apple is said to be "pushing back" on multiple shareholder proposals that deal with issues like Apple's greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and human rights, discovered in letters the Cupertino company sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission in November (via Reuters). At least four proposals were argued as relating to "ordinary business," with Apple further stating that they are "not necessary" due to the company's day-to-day focus on those issues.

Apple's letters state that this means the proposals can be left off of the proxy it is expected to publish in early 2018, ahead of its annual shareholders meeting where these proposals would be heard. Apple says these are areas it "routinely reviews" and therefore they do not represent "significant policy issues" that it classifies as requiring a shareholder vote.

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Still, some activists argue that the move by Apple "could sharply restrict investor rights," with the company using a newly enacted guidance put in place by the SEC on November 1 in its attempt to block the proposals.

While companies routinely seek permission to skip shareholder proposals, Apple’s application of the new SEC guidance shows how it could be used to ignore many investor proposals by claiming boards routinely review those areas, said Sanford Lewis, a Massachusetts attorney representing Apple shareholders who had filed two of the resolutions.

Were the SEC to side with Apple, “this would be an incredibly dangerous precedent that would essentially say a great many proposals could be omitted,” Lewis said.

Apple's letter is reported as specifically citing the new SEC guidance. Some of the four shareholder proposals include calls for Apple to establish a "human rights committee" that could focus on tackling topics like censorship within the company, as well as asking for further reporting by Apple on its ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental pledges.

Apple's letters to the SEC offered details as to why the shareholder proposals and resolutions are unnecessary. This included references to recent updates in its 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report, where the company pledged to end mining and switch to 100 percent recycled material for its products.

In the case of the measure on greenhouse gas emissions, filed by Jantz Management of Boston, for instance, Apple argues it already has taken many steps to improve the sustainability of its operations such as switching to greener materials and helping suppliers use more renewable energy.

Apple's 2017 shareholders meeting was held on February 28, with that date being confirmed on January 6, so we'll likely know more about the 2018 meeting early in the new year.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

joshdammit Avatar
41 months ago
Apple is also committed to turning a profit, so no more expecting accountability on their business practices. Shut up, shareholders!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
simonmet Avatar
41 months ago
I’m skeptical of Apple here. Their trend towards unupgradable and borderline irreparable computers could be argued as anti-environmental.

Apple is far from being the worst in the industry on environmental issues, more likely the opposite, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do better. My biggest pet peeve is those god-awful lightning cables that are basically designed to break and then get thrown into landfill. I urge anyone reading this to do yourself a favour and buy any of the decent third-party cables. They cost less than Apple charges for in most cases far superior and long-lasting quality. At least with wireless charging lightning cable use should decline.

I don’t see what they have to fear from shareholders expressing a democratic voice.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tec972 Avatar
41 months ago
Apple is more concerned with turning more profit by making the customers think they are recycling. The whole apple watch recycle program announced recently, comes to mind. If they are really recycling why does the watch have to be fully functional? If they were really recycling and not trying to resell they wouldn't care whether or not it functioned, hence the word recycle.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WatchFromAfar Avatar
41 months ago

Apple really hasn't ever been interested in shareholder opinions

Apart from when they initially did it because they wanted the investor's money. They could have stayed private but guess what they didn't.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WatchFromAfar Avatar
41 months ago

Apple is also committed to turning a profit, so no more expecting accountability on their business practices. Shut up, shareholders!

If Apple isn't interested in share holders opinions then they should never have held an IPO. Shut up, Apple!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lowendlinux Avatar
41 months ago

If Apple isn't interested in share holders opinions then they should never have held an IPO. Shut up, Apple!

Apple really hasn't ever been interested in shareholder opinions
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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