Apple's board rejects new diversity proposal

Apple's board has called on investors to reject a new diversity proposal, terming it "unduly burdensome."

Like other big tech companies, Apple had been criticised in recent years for being mostly male and predominantly white.

Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook lauded the virtues of a diverse workforce, adding diversity was a "readily solvable issue" that could be fixed.

However, the tech giant's board of directors opposed a new proposal boost diversity among its board and senior management.

The proposal, submitted by Apple shareholder Antonio Avian Maldonado, would warrant an accelerated recruitment policy to change the company's organisational makeup.

Rejecting it outright, the boards said it was "unduly burdensome and not necessary," according to a proxy statement published on 6 January ahead of its February shareholder meeting.

Apple's board comprises eight members, two women (Grameen America president Andrea Jung and BlackRock cofounder Susan Wagner), and a black male, (James Bell, the former president of Boeing), with the rest being white men.

Apple's executive team, like many of the other major tech firms, was overwhelmingly white and male. Of 18 positions, women occupy three, two of whom are black. The 15 remaining roles are filled by white men.

Apple claims it was doing its part to improve its statistics. "Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company," the board wrote in the proxy statement. The company's 2015 diversity report revealed that 69 per cent of the company is male and 54 per cent is white. Its leadership is 72 per cent male and 63 per cent white.

Maldonado's proposal had criticised Apple for being ''painstakingly slow'' to increase its representation of minorities in its leadership and board, called for prioritising the recruitment of Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and other people of colour in particular.