Alphabet Investors Reject All Shareholders’ Proposals, Again

June 2, 2021, 7:04 PM

Alphabet Inc. investors toed management’s line at the internet giant’s annual general meeting, re-electing the company’s board and rejecting bold proposals to disband its dual-class stock structure or transition to a public-benefit corporation.

The rejection of all shareholder proposals, ranging from the appointment of a civil or human rights expert on the board to a report on sustainability metrics, was expected, and echoes an annual ritual at Alphabet and other technology companies.

Alphabet’s dual-class stock structure, which has existed since it became a public company in 2004, has concentrated power in the hands of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and other insiders. That partially explains why Wednesday’s votes were such a foregone conclusion.

Alphabet has been facing pressure from employees, shareholders and the government to make reforms. The Alphabet Workers Union, which represents some of the company’s employees, backed a measure for a third-party review of whistleblower protections for staff. One stockholder asked for a report on content takedown requests, and another asked for a review of risks related to anticompetitive practices. Politico reported Wednesday that U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat of New Jersey, and other senate Democrats sent a letter to Alphabet’s leadership calling on them to carry out a racial equity audit to examine how their tech products may perpetuate racial biases.

During a question-and-answer portion of the annual meeting, Fiona Cicconi, Google’s chief people officer, explained all the ways the company was trying to construct a fair and diverse workplace, which she said was necessary to create products to serve people around the world.

Last year “was our largest year ever for hiring Black and Latinx Googlers in the U.S., both overall and actually in tech roles,” she said. “And for the second year in a row, we increased representation for women globally, including in leadership roles.” The company has also doubled the size of its retention and progression team and run a “rigorous” pay equity analysis, she added.

According to the 2020 diversity report, 6.6% of new hires in the U.S. were Latinx, while 5.5% were Black. Globally 32.5% of new hires were women.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net

Molly Schuetz, Andrew Pollack

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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