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article imageAmazon's Board of Directors say no to climate change proposal

By Karen Graham     May 27, 2019 in Business
Seattle - A proposal backed by more than 7,500 Amazon employees asking that the company create a comprehensive climate-change plan did not impress Amazon's board of directors. And shareholders went along with the board and voted down the proposal.
The annual Amazon shareholders meeting took place in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, and quickly turned hostile. Employees expected to present their plea directly to their boss, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but even though he was at the meeting, he was not in the room.
There were 12 different proposals to be voted on including demands that the company take action on climate change through energy use, as well as improving diversity and pay equality in its workforce.
Two of the resolutions asked for Amazon to stop the sale of its facial recognition software to government agencies, which the backers say raises concerns of racial bias and discrimination.
As it turned out, the employees' proposal on how Amazon plans to deal with climate change received 29.8 percent of the shareholder votes. The proposal calling for a ban on the sale of facial recognition software to government agencies received only 2.4 percent of the vote, reports the New York Post.
Actually, none of the 12 resolutions passed. All proposals must go through the company's board of directors, and if they don't approve of a resolution, they say so. In the case of the employee climate change proposal, the board argued that the company's green initiatives were plentiful enough, so they refused to back it.
And as Reuters notes, shareholder proposals virtually never pass without board support, so it was voted down. It also helps that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos controls 16 percent of the stock and voting rights.
The employee proposal may have been voted down, but at the same time, it garnered nearly one-third the support of the shareholders. It is important to note that the fact it existed at all is due to the increasing pressure being placed on businesses and corporations to act on the climate crisis and take their role in it seriously.
As Vox points out, the Amazon employees' move also signals that tech workers are learning to not be afraid to speak out - becoming activists for their company and taking part in the moral and ethical decisions of the firms that employ them.
More about Amazon, shareholders meeting, board of directors, CEO Jeff Bezos, climate advocates
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