Pro-Conservative Diversity Policy Sparks Heated Debate at Apple Shareholder Meeting

‘Silicon Valley elites often preen about their commitment to diversity and inclusion, but I don’t think many of you know what that means….’

Should Apple Shareholders Include Conservatives in 'Diversity' of Apple's Board?

Apple’s Tim Cook / IMAGE: CNBC via Youtube

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Apple is the most valuable public company in the world. It’s also dominated by left-leaning progressives who help define Silicon Valley’s social-justice corporate culture—and anti-conservative political activism.

But on Friday, Apple’s board and progressive executive-management team were forced to consider a pro-conservative diversity proposal at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

“As a veteran of more than 125 shareholder meetings, I can honestly say that I have never witnessed anything like what occurred this morning. I have never seen so much discussion, driven by so much passion, over a single shareholder proposal,” said Justin Danhof, director of the Free Enterprise Project.

“It’s clear that we struck a nerve deep in the heart of far-left Silicon Valley,” Danhof said.

The Free Enterprise Project is a market-based initiative representing the interests of conservative investors who frequently endure political prejudice and bias. The Project is part of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The group scored a major victory when its “True Diversity Board Policy” advanced to the March 1 shareholder meeting. FEP urged Apple investors to approve the resolution in light of the institutional mistreatment of conservatives, and because it makes good financial sense.

Discriminating against roughly half the country, for instance, poses long-term risks to Apple investors.

“True diversity comes from differences in thoughts, ethos and beliefs. And in the current business climate in which corporate America regularly engages in political issues, it is important for corporate boards to reflect a broad spectrum of ideologies,” Danhof, who authored of the resolution, said prior to the meeting.

The common-sense perspective had the effect of spotlighting Apple’s incessant liberal activism, which under self-imposed groupthink becomes everyday business.

When Danhof presented the resolution, more than a dozen other investors offered questions and comments, and many more shareholders waited in line to comment before Apple’s general counsel shut down the discussion. No other proposal received a single comment or question.

Some investors accused Danhof of grandstanding, while others praised FEP’s call for more “blind” diversity initiatives, rather than those favoring specific groups based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity and national origin—and who happen to support left-wing politics.

There was no disguising where the company’s leadership stood during the heated discussion.

“While the comments were mixed, it was very telling to watch Apple CEO Tim Cook’s reactions,” said Danhof.

“When liberals raged against our proposal, Cook audibly cheered and clapped. When conservatives and nonpartisan folks talked about the need for balance at Apple specifically, and Silicon Valley generally, he sat mute,” he said.

At one point, a female investor confronted Cook, saying that her close friend is a conservative who works at Apple and feels unwelcome and hated by other Apple employees and that she works in fear. The investor asked Cook how he would advise her.

Cook offered a verbose, non-responsive answer that was wide-ranging and dismissive of the issue, Danhof recalled.

Ultimately, FEP’s diversity proposal was defeated, as expected. But not before Danhof was able to speak.

“Silicon Valley elites often preen about their commitment to diversity and inclusion, but I don’t think many of you know what that means. Diversity isn’t what someone looks like. It’s the sum of what they think, feel and believe. When the company takes overtly political positions on legal and policy issues, it would be a benefit to have voices from both sides of the aisle in the room,” he said.

“And at this company, thinking and believing in conservative policies appear to be discouraged if not forbidden,” he continued.

Activist groups and other industry organizations, like the Institutional Shareholder Services advisory firm, had already recommended to shareholders that they oppose the resolution. However, the same group supported a nearly identical board diversity proposal at Amazon last year, which happened to call for even more liberal ‘diversity.’

Apple leadership, who collectively manage a nearly $1-trillion company, unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on two separate occasions to remove FEP’s board diversity resolution from the company’s proxy statement, and to deny the company’s investors from even considering voting on it.

Apple’s legal team, with the backing of its management and board of directors, argued that company shareholders would find the resolution confusing.

“These actions prove why our policy request is so desperately needed at Apple,” said Danhof.