Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII), a Napa Valley 30-year socially responsible investment advisory firm has placed an important human rights resolution on the Apple corporation’s proxy ballot to address the ongoing abuse of workers at manufacturers that produce Apple products. Apple shareholders will vote on the resolution at the upcoming 2013 Annual Shareholders Meeting to be held on February 27 in Cupertino, California.
The Harrington resolution would authorize Apple’s board of directors to amend the company’s bylaws to create a separate board committee on human rights. The committee would be responsible for reviewing the implications of its company’s policy and operations when it comes to human rights abuses.
“Apple has been plagued by consistent labor and human rights issues involving worker safety, suicides and excessive working hours at the Foxconn facility in China which produces its products,” said John Harrington, President/CEO of HII. “Unfortunately, the company’s board of directors has little, if any, guidance provided by their own bylaws and committee charters on a formal process for directors to fulfill their fiduciary duties in dealing with human rights issues at the corporation.”
Apple management and the board have opposed the resolution, contending that the committee would distract the board “while adding little value to the company’s existing commitment to human rights and social responsibility.”
Harrington disagrees with Apple management’s position on the resolution and concluded by saying: “While the company’s management has endorsed the voluntary Supplier Code of Conduct, the board of directors have not adopted committee charter language or addressed human rights in the bylaws as part of their fiduciary duties as our agents. As shareholders we need them to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of corporate management.”
“The board has a history of rubber stamping management policies on human rights and environmental sustainability,” added Harrington. “If the directors refuse to exercise their fiduciary oversight, the company will continually find itself dealing with the same problems over and over again.”