Apple changes bylaws after facing criticism about lack of diversity on board

“Apple Inc., facing behind-the-scenes pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives, has taken a step to address the criticism and diversify its board,” Adam Satariano reports for Bloomberg.

“The world’s most valuable company recently added language to a board committee charter vowing to diversify its board,” Satariano reports. “The move follows objections from shareholders Trillium Asset Management LLC and the Sustainability Group, who said they’re disappointed that the iPhone maker has only one woman on its eight-member board, and one incoming female member of the executive team that reports to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.”

“The shareholders met with Apple representatives several times in the past few months and said they would bring the issue to a vote at a Feb. 28 shareholder meeting. They said they backed off after Apple added language to the charter that promises to consider women and minorities as board candidates, without making any specific commitments,” Satariano reports. “‘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.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Andrea Jung might beg to differ.

Apple BoD member Andrea Jung
Apple BoD member Andrea Jung

Satariano reports, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: There are currently just eight seats on Apple’s Board of Directors. Jung’s is one. 1 ÷ 8 = 12.5%. Apple is facing “criticism” — of such vehemence, by the way, as to be instantly placated by language being added to the charter without the company making any specific commitments — because the company is 4.5 percentage points off the Fortune 500 average.

Satariano reports, “Apple is now adding the following language to the charter: ‘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.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Whew, what a relief! As we all know, in a lot of places today, Washington D.C. especially, as long as we talk about doing something, or “include language,” it’s considered to be done. So, we’re happy to see that this is all taken care of! (dripping sarcasm)

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Diversity is good, but getting the absolute best would seem to be the better goal. Forced diversity carries its own set of problems. Would the group be comprised of the best-qualifed people possible or would it be designed to hit pre-defined quotas? Would some members of the board, consciously or unconsciously, consider certain members, or even themselves, to be tokens meant to fill a quota?

This could also work in Apple’s and other company’s favor. Truly looking at qualified people from a larger pool could result in delivering different viewpoints and new ways of looking at things and tackling problems than a more homogenized BoD would be capable of delivering.

Regardless and of course, someday it would be nice for everyone to just be able to look at a group and only see people, not skin color and/or gender.

42 Comments

    1. I agree 100%.

      ALL, literally ALL, candidates need to be evaluated on their merits and what they bring to Apple to better Apple.

      If the board is 100% white men or 100% aboriginal women or anywhere in the spectrum in between it does not matter if each of the members brings the best benefits for the best board for Apple.

      Many years ago I created a select team in a large corporation (one of the top 10 defense contractors in the U.S.) for a specific, new area of endeavor. It just so happened that the best people for the tasks were all women. I routinely got criticized for creating “a harem” and not seriously considering men. When we needed to expand to add a new slot I very foolishly heeded the widespread suggestions (even by HR) that I pick a man that time. I did hire a man. It was probably the worst hire that I have ever made in my life. I’ll never bow to that kind of pressure again. I’ll always pick the best person for the job no matter what.

    2. The push for diversity has led to executives and administrators who harbor feelings of incompetency, and fear criticism of their actions and decisions. This has led to draconian restrictions on free speech in the workplace, “team” decision making, and zero tolerance policies, all put in place in order to minimize the need for taking individual responsibility for decision making by inexperienced people who fear criticism of their lack of management skills. You’re right. It’s killing America.

    3. Actually, the point is to get the best team. Sometimes the “best” person can ruin a team. And there is quite a lot of literature on this: a team with diversity will rule over a team without. The effect is strong enough so that it appears, in some cases, that adding an arbitrarily diverse team member will improve performance.

    4. I’ve been telling these shareholders it is not about gender or diversity, it’s about effectiveness and talent and vision.

      Let me give you one recent example gender has nothing to do with who gets in or who goes out; Ron Johnson did great at Apple, not so great at JC Penny’s. John Browett did not make it as retail chief at Apple. Let’s see how Angela Ahrendts does, we wish her the best.

      I have no doubt there are millions of effective and talented women and men out there.

    1. This country is always better off by having its companies reflect the broad and diverse citizens of the USA. It allows you to make foul mouthed comments about anyone who is not exactly like you. well, you are the extreme minority and your thoughts are unchristian to say the least

      1. No, it isn’t better off hiring by diversity rules if there is someone better and smarter at what they do to take that person’s position. Apple has never been a discriminatory company and to force them to hire just based on mixing colors or to add females while turning down someone who is better at that job is ridiculous. They just fired a man and hired a woman to run sales! When it stops being competitive based on best brains and top achievements we are all in trouble.

      2. Here is a question for you Terry. I imagine you go to doctors right? Family doctor, a disease specialist, Dentist, Optometrist? Do you choose the next one you need by diversity or do you go looking for the one that is the best for your current problem? If you really believe it’s always better to “reflect the broad and diverse citizens of the USA” that means the Doctors you hire should be chosen according to diversity as well. People you hire individually, doctors, lawyers, accountants, your car mechanic, are none the less being employed by being chosen. Do you choose by ethnic background or reputation?

  1. There was talk here in Australia to make it law that companies had to have x% of women on the board/head positions ect. If you ask me, making it law or even required in some way to hire based on sex is a step backward for equal rights.

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