Why it matters: Many Silicon Valley companies have been accused of being overtly left-leaning and political, and while Apple isn’t the most oft cited example, some of its shareholders wanted to ensure diversity of opinion by forcing disclosure of ‘ideology’ when nominating new board members. But the proposal was overwhelmingly voted down.
On Friday Apple held their annual shareholders meeting at the Cupertino headquarters. As has been customary in recent times, diversity was a subject that came up for discussion, but instead of the usual focus on gender or ethnicity it was diversity of opinion that was under scrutiny.
Among the proposals voted on by shareholders was a motion by Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research – a conservative think tank – that would have required all nominees for Directorial positions to disclose their ‘ideology’.
Advocating for the proposal, Danhof said “when the company takes overtly political, legal and policy positions, it would benefit to have voices from both sides of the aisle.” He added, “at this company, the consideration of conservative viewpoints appears to be discouraged if not altogether forbidden.”
But according to Business Insider, Apple’s shareholders decisively rejected the motion, as it secured just 1.7% of shareholder votes.
Regardless of the benefits that diversity of opinion can bring, the requirement to disclose ‘ideology’ does feel somewhat McCarthyite. Commenting on the motion following the vote, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “I don’t check people at the door as to who they are and what they believe. I care about skills and capabilities and contributions.”
This is not the first time that accusations of an anti-conservative bias have been put to a major tech company. Facebook and Google have had many such accusations. Google in particular had months of bad PR following the infamous ‘diversity memo’ written in 2017.
But it’s a problem that Cook appears to be aware of. Responding to a question from an audience member who said their friend, an Apple employee, was hated because of her conservative views, Cook said, “I would encourage [her] to come talk to me.”