What you need to know
- Non-profit advocacy group SumOfUs has urged Apple's shareholders to vote in favor of a proposal that would force Apple's Board of Directors to report to them over freedom of expression.
- A notice of exempt solicitation by the group cited a "critical need" for Apple to improve its disclosure and transparency over the issue.
- The proposal is to be voted on at Apple's annual shareholders' meeting on February 26, and Apple's board does not support the proposal.
Non-profit advocacy group SumOfUs has urged Apple's shareholders to vote in favor of a proposal that would force its Board of Directors to report annually regarding the company's policies regarding freedom of expression and access to information.
At the beginning of the year, Apple announced that its annual shareholders' meeting would take place on February 26. Six shareholder proposals will be voted on at the meeting. The final proposal concerns freedom of expression and access to information. In that report, it was noted that some shareholders were concerned about Apple operating in markets like China and other countries where governments limit free expression and punish dissent. Essentially, shareholders would like Apple's Board of Directors to report back to them on this topic annually, specifically:
Now, in a Notice of exempt solicitation, international advocacy group SumOfUs has urged Apple's shareholders to back the move, which Apple's Board has recommended they vote against. The introduction to the letter says:
The letter goes on to highlight concerns, specifically about Apple's choosing to operate in China despite a swathe of problematic human rights issued it described as "a full-blown human rights disaster". The letter also notes the Board's response to this proposal, which it says addresses concerns about suppliers and the human rights of those who work in Apple's supply chains but does nothing to address freedom of expression or opinion, which is the key issue.
It also notes the rising concerns of investors not just in Apple, but globally, over the risks to companies' reputations and operations as a result of human rights issues.
In conclusion, it states:
At the meeting on February 26, the proposal needs an affirmative vote of the majority of shares present and represented by proxy to be passed.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9