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Apple's commitment to diversity faces test at shareholder meeting

Apple celebrates diversity, but a big test to its commitment to being inclusive will come at next month’s shareholder meeting.

The company is encouraging a vote against a proposal by shareholders to implement an accelerated hiring policy “to increase the diversity of senior management and its board of directors.”

But Apple’s senior management and board, who are mostly white, fails to represent the company’s “diversity and inclusion,” argued shareholders Zevin Asset Management and Antonio Avian Maldonado II. They explained their position Tuesday in a rebuttal to Apple’s opposition filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“While Apple has increased overall diversity initiatives, most of these efforts involve junior staff working in the company’s retail operations. Changes in the makeup of senior management and board clearly lag those in the broader workforce,” the shareholders said.

A blurb of the original proposal, also called Proposal No. 6, was included in Apple’s proxy filing in early January, which also noted the company’s opposition. The shareholders further detailed their proposal in Tuesday’s filing.

The proposal will go up for a vote on Feb. 28 at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, held in Cupertino.

Apple has asked shareholders to vote down the proposal for several reasons. The company wants to focus on diversity across the company, and not just the senior management and board, it said. Moreover, the company is actively seeking out minority and women for top positions.

It also doesn’t want the diversity policy to affect the recruitment process.

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