A coalition of investor advocates led by Azzad Asset Management withdrew a shareholder proposal this month after reaching an agreement with Apple Inc. regarding the company’s plan to improve its transparency reports and specifically add clarity around the removal of applications from its app store in response to government requests.
The proposal raised concerns about freedom of speech concerning reports of apps being taken down in China, and requested that Apple expand its transparency reporting to provide clear explanations for app removals, and the number of app removals by removal category.
Apple has pledged to address these concerns by significantly enhancing its current disclosures, including offering additional clarity regarding the number of apps removed or rejected as well as a breakdown by category explaining the reason for removal or rejection. Apple has committed to implementing these improvements within the year.
In consideration of these planned enhancements, investors agreed to withdraw the proposal.
“We’re pleased to see Apple engaging on this issue,” said Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC, which co-filed the proposal. “Transparency is vital for investors interested in protecting freedom of speech and ensuring that companies uphold their human rights commitments.”
“Azzad Asset Management appreciates Apple’s consultative approach to working with our stakeholder coalition,” said Joshua Brockwell, Investment Communications Director at Azzad. “Our agreed-upon outcome is a notable improvement over the company’s current reporting standards. We look forward to seeing this agreement on enhanced transparency become a reality in the coming months.”
The investor coalition includes lead filer Azzad and co-filers Open MIC, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Illinois, Mercy Investment Services, Inc., the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Sum of Us, and Tulipshare Ltd.
The proposal was previously introduced in 2021, earning nearly 32 percent of shareholder votes.