Apple Inc. recently announced that they would be amending their nominating and corporate governance committee charter to include language conveying the need for gender and racial diversity. The charter will state that Apple is “committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen.” But Apple isn’t acting from its own volition. At the annual shareholders meeting, two investor groups, Trillium Asset Management and the Sustainability Group, proposed a diversity vote that would force Apple to take the necessary steps to ensure gender equality among its board members. Rather than leave it to the vote, Apple came out with its charter amendment.
And now Apple will likely find one or more worthy, meticulously qualified women and/or minorities. However, two questions remain: why wasn’t gender and minority diversity already an issue for Apple? And why did it take so long to become one? How quickly will Apple act, since they currently only have one woman on their board?
We hope other companies follow Apple’s lead without being forced, and proclaim a commitment to a diverse board. We all know, however, that while charter language is good, actions speak louder than words.