updated 03:50 pm EST, Sun February 5, 2012
Calpers wants Apple board policy change
California's public sector retirement system, Calpers, is hoping to push Apple to give it and other shareholders more control over the company's board of directors. The organization told the FT [reg. required] that it wanted a "governance upgrade" where board members are elected or rejected directly based on majority votes. At present, votes can't actively oppose a member, and only one vote is needed in favor to keep a board member in place if no one is contesting the seat.
Calpers tried this last year but was turned down, and is facing opposition again ahead of the 2012 Apple shareholders' meeting on February 23. Apple has objected in both instances because it was worried that low voter turnout might oust a director even if the majority of the votes are in its favor.
The organization has been on a campaign to make majority voting a staple of other companies and, along with others, ans convinced about 29 companies to make such changes. Persuading Apple to make such a change may be difficult, however, both because of its ongoing success with the existing board as well as the close connections between board members and Apple leadership, including the late Steve Jobs.
Only a few other changes are rising to the forefront at the meeting, such as a National Center for Public Policy Research concern that Apple's political stances on issues might favor board members, such as an attempt to reduce greenhouse gases that would favor the environmental activism of Al Gore. Apple seldom makes its opinion public, but it has been pro-environment in recent years and designs products with that in mind.