30 May 2018 Amazon Caves to Leftists – Adopts Proposal for Board Race and Gender Mandates
Tech Giant Gives in to “Diversity” Demands from Service Employees International Union and Institutional Shareholder Services Proxy Advisory Firm
Free Enterprise Project Urges Diversity of Boardroom Viewpoints – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Agrees
Seattle, WA / Washington, D.C. – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was confronted before his investors and corporate leadership today about the tech giant’s decision to submit to the demands of organized labor to adopt a new board member selection process that will apparently use a racial and gender paradigm.
Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. took Bezos to task for settling this shareholder proposal in advance of today’s annual meeting of Amazon investors. Danhof criticized Bezos and Amazon for caving to the sexist and racists demands in the proposal, and suggested the company would be better suited by adopting a policy to increase viewpoint diversity – something Bezos later said he favored.
Titled, “Shareholder Proposal Regarding Diverse Candidates,” Proposal #4 on Amazon’s proxy statement was co-sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and CtW Investment Group. The proposal had directed Amazon to ensure that any new board candidate pool include woman and minority candidates. The proposal, however, was withdrawn from today’s meeting after Amazon agreed to adopt a new policy in line with Proposal #4.
“Amazon made a major mistake in giving in to the race hustlers and bean-counters,” said Danhof. “Amazon should select the best candidate for its board regardless of skin color or gender. To do otherwise is racist and sexist. Liberal investor advocates and their allies are making a major push to force affirmative action in corporate board rooms. Amazon missed a big opportunity to stand firm against this insidious approach. Diversity is the sum of an individual, not what he looks like. It’s what he feels, thinks, believes, and how he makes decisions that should matter to Amazon’s board and its investors. That’s what true diversity is all about.”
Yesterday, before it was known that the SEIU withdrew its proposal, the National Center issued a press release urging Amazon’s investors to reject the proposal in which Danhof noted:
In 2018, there has been a major push from liberal activists to demand greater racial and gender diversity on corporate boards. Investors should urge boards to select the most qualified individuals regardless of their sex or race. To do otherwise promotes sexism and racism.
Jesse Jackson attended today’s meeting to praise Amazon for adopting the SEIU’s proposal.
Danhof addressed the meeting immediately after Jackson. He said:
I understand that the company adopted a policy in line with the SEIU’s proposal. That’s very concerning as an investor. Does anyone really think that the SEIU cares about the best interest of Amazon or us investors?
Today’s social justice warriors seem to have forgotten what the Civil Rights Era was really all about and what the word diversity means. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought a future in which we would judge one another on the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. The SEIU seems to want to upend that noble goal and return to the era when folks focused primarily on outward appearances. That’s an insidious approach.
Danhof then asked:
We encourage the company to seek board members with diversity of thought, opinion, and experience – in other words – viewpoint diversity.
If the next candidate the board identifies that can best help Amazon happens to be a white male, let’s not reject him simply because he is a white male. I might remind everyone that Mr. Bezos is a white male, and he has done pretty well for us investors.
Could you tell us about the new policy that Amazon adopted and whether it includes seeking viewpoint diversity?
“Bezos affirmed that he strongly believes in the value of viewpoint diversity, and we are going to hold him to that,” said Danhof. “However, he did not offer any specifics about the new policy that Amazon adopted in response to the SEIU’s proposal. That’s a major concern. If Jesse Jackson is supporting what Amazon did, investors ought to be worried. And Amazon should immediately make its new policy publicly available.”
In advance of Amazon’s meeting, one of America’s largest proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), pledged its support for the SEIU’s proposal.
“ISS claims to recommend proposals that increase good governance, and therefore sound corporate policy. In reality, it supports extremists causes pushed by leftist unions such as the SEIU and far-left activists investors affiliated with the As You Sow network,” said Danhof. “We encourage other corporate boards to stand firm against ISS recommendations.”
FEP representatives have participated in 22 shareholder meetings in 2018.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
Danhof’s latest commentary, on the recent Walt Disney shareholder meeting where his actions resulted in Joy Behar’s public apology for suggesting Christianity is a mental illness, is available at this link.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.