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Apple shareholders vote on proposal to examine its NDAs for risk to civil rights

Apple’s shareholders have voted to authorize its NDA for its civil rights implications.

While Apple remains one of the most successful publicly-traded companies, its shareholders are concerned about more than just its declared profit. They address issues like the use of forced labor by production partners, pay equity among the workers, and the NDAs employees are made to sign.

At the last shareholders’ meeting, the same board of directors got reelected, and the enhanced payment plan for the executive staff was approved. However, proposal number 10 also got attention. It was supported by Nia Impact Capital, Transparency in Employment Agreements (TEA), etc. Proposal 10 wanted Apple to publish a report on the risks that result from Apple’s inclusion of concealment clauses. Apple was expected to show how the clause affects the ability of staff to report or disclose harassment, discrimination, and other offenses.

“Shareholders of Apple Inc. (“Apple”) ask that the Board of Directors prepare a public report assessing the potential risks to the company associated with its use of concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful acts. The report should be prepared at reasonable cost and omit proprietary and personal information.”

Apple is not in support of the proposal as it argues it is already fulfilling the purpose because it already commits to inclusion and diversity. But the shareholders were not convinced with Apple’s explanation for opposing the proposal.

Apple responded that it had added a clause to all its separation agreements stating that the NDA does not cover speaking up about abuses or harassment. The new clause applies to workers in the US only. The glaring problem is that not all Apple’s employees live in the US, and many are not in places where laws such as the Silenced No More Act exist.

Even then, the shareholders insist that Apple should add the clause where it has more impact, like in the employment agreement letter, instead of in the Business Conduct Policy.

Proposal 10 enjoys some support, and preliminary voting shows that 49.3 of the shareholders support it, slightly more than the 49.24 opposing it. But for the abstentions, the measure would have gathered the majority it requires to sail through. But later votes got the number of Yes to above 50 percent, as revealed by Apple’s 8-K filing with the SEC.

Commenting on the outcome of the vote, CEO of Nia Capital, Dr. Kristin Hull, said, “NDAs make sense when we need to protect intellectual property or competitively sensitive information. They do not, however, make sense for cases of harassment or discrimination as they mask issues from other employees and investors.”

Here is the official communique:

“RESOLVED that shareholders of Apple Inc. (“Apple”) urge the Board of Directors to oversee a third-party audit analyzing the adverse impact of Apple’s policies and practices on the civil rights of company stakeholders, above and beyond legal and regulatory matters, and to provide recommendations for improving the company’s civil rights impact. Input from civil rights organizations, employees, and customers should be considered in determining the specific matters to be analyzed. A report on the audit, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential or proprietary information, should be publicly disclosed on Apple’s website.”

Written by HackerVibes

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