19 May 2022 Shareholder Proposal Questions AT&T’s Commitment to “Equality”
Washington, D.C. – The Free Enterprise Project (FEP) presented a proposal at AT&T’s annual shareholder meeting today challenging the company’s workplace policies that focus on characteristics such as race, sex and sexual orientation instead of merit.
During the virtual meeting, FEP Program Coordinator Sarah Rehberg presented Item 7, which requested that the Board of Directors commission a racial equity audit analyzing the company’s impacts on civil rights and nondiscrimination, and the impacts of those issues on the company’s business.
“Through its emphasis on surface-level characteristics over merit, AT&T’s so-called ‘diversity, equality, and inclusion’ efforts demonstrate the opposite of antidiscrimination measures,” said Rehberg after the meeting. “Like so many other woke corporations, AT&T should stop playing politics and instead focus on its business as a telecommunications company.”
In delivering FEP’s statement in support of its proposal, Rehberg called AT&T out for opposing the nondiscrimination audit:
By opposing our proposal and arguing against an independent audit and report that seeks to include a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, the company demonstrates its disapproval of those who may disagree with its approach to “equality” and thereby underscores the very need for our proposal in the first place.
Rehberg’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be read here. The audio of her presentation can be heard here. Item 7, and AT&T’s response to it, can be found on pages 18-19 of the Company’s proxy statement. The proposal was not approved.
“AT&T has made a number of dreadful business decisions in recent years,” said FEP Director Scott Shepard after the meeting. “Its foray into content was a costly disaster. Its board is helmed and manned in material part by hard partisans, all of the same stripe. AT&T should be embracing our effort to make those of diverse and contrasting viewpoints secure and welcome at AT&T. That it opposes the only kind of diversity guaranteed to improve company performance reveals a great deal about what’s so wrong with the modern AT&T.”
FEP also attended Home Depot’s annual shareholder meeting today. At the virtual meeting, FEP Associate Ethan Peck submitted a question about Home Depot’s “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” policies. Though Peck’s question was ignored outright, CEO Ted Decker answered a similar question by indicating that people of certain ethnic backgrounds can be expected to think a certain way.
Investors wishing to oppose race-based discrimination and other “woke” policies infiltrating Corporate America should download FEP’s 2022 editions of the Investor Value Voter Guide and the Balancing the Boardroom guide. Other action items for investors and non-investors alike can be found on FEP’s website.
Today’s meetings mark the 37th and 38th times FEP has attended or attempted to attend a shareholder meeting so far in 2022. To schedule an interview with a member of the Free Enterprise Project on this or other issues, contact Judy Kent at (703) 477-7476.
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, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work is prominently featured in Stephen Soukup’s new book The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business (Encounter Books) and Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
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.
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