Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (GeekWire File Photo)
Amazon says it is simply formalizing a practice that was already in place, but the company’s new policy pledging to consider “a slate of diverse candidates, including women and minorities” for future openings on its board of directors is being called a key moment in the quest to increase diversity on corporate boards.
“Oftentimes when Amazon acts, others follow,” said Shannon Gordon, the new CEO of theBoardlist, a marketplace with a mission of putting more women on public and private company boards.
Amazon’s decision to formally adopt what’s known as the “Rooney Rule,” announced on Monday, followed a controversy over the board’s initial opposition to a shareholder proposal that sought to require the company to include qualified women and minority candidates on the initial list of candidates for the board. In its original response to the proposal, the company said it already took diversity into account as part of the process, and recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal as a result.
That sparked a backlash among some employee groups, as reported by Recode last week, and public criticism from Black and Hispanic members of Congress, as reported by The Hill.
Amazon VP of Public Policy Brian Huseman announced the reversal in a letter Monday to U.S. Reps. Yvette Clarke, Robin Kelly, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver II, co-chairs of the Tech Accountability Caucus. He wrote, “We reached this decision after listening to your feedback as well as that from Amazon employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders about the Board diversity proposal. These conversations led us to reconsider both our decision on the shareholder proposal and how we explained our initial recommendation.”
The company formalized the policy change in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I can confirm that the …read more