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Strong Investor Support To Call On Amazon For Racial Equity Audit

Strong Investor Support To Call On Amazon For Racial Equity Audit
The top pension official of the New York state said on Friday that the largest e-retailer of the world Inc needs to conduct a review about the manner in which is addressing racial justice and equity. This comment came following a strong backing won by a shareholder proposal on the topic.
 A call for a review of the company's impact on equity, diversity and other areas was voted and supported by 44 per cent of shareholders, showed a regulatory filing by the company. The proposal was made by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at Amazon's annual meeting on May 26. According to analysts, the vote share that supported the call is a high one for such proposals on such topics. 
The call or the proposal would have got a majority share of the shareholders but for the 14 per cent share that is held by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, DiNapoli said, and added that this was a sign of the extent of dissatisfaction among investors of the e-retailing company.  
"Shareholders sent a loud message to Amazon that they want the company to do more to address racial diversity, equity and inclusion. It's time for Amazon to listen to its investors," DiNapoli said in an emailed-statement.
Earlier, Amazon had only said that the investor proposal had not received a majority vote but had not revealed how much of the investors’ votes were won by the proposal.
The company has "initiated numerous programs to assess and address racial justice considerations across key aspects of our operations that we believe fully address the objectives of this proposal”, said an Amazon representative.
At Wednesday's annual meeting of Amazon, there were 11 shareholder proposals and this proposal that called on the company for auditing racial equity won the highest level of support among all the proposals.
The filing also showed that 17 per cent of the company’s investors supported a proposal called for the company to consider appointing an hourly worker to the board of directors of the company.
It is rare that proposals that have such low levels of support are adopted. However, it is worth mentioning that the support that the proposal received was twice the shareholder votes that similar calls for workers on boards in other companies have got in recent years.
After a union organizing effort at the company failed in April, analysts and investors were closely watching the annual meeting of amazon for the proposal which received a rare endorsement from Institutional Shareholder Services.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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