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Google Investors Defeat Racial Equity Audit and Approve Stock Split

Alphabet Inc. investors rejected 17 shareholder proposals, including a racist equity review, at Google’s parent company’s annual meeting on Wednesday, but approved a company proposal to increase the share count that would allow for a proposed stock split.

At the end of a 2+ hour virtual meeting streamed on Alphabet’s GOOG,
+0.60%
google,
+0.62%
The YouTube video service Kathryn Hall, Alphabet’s assistant secretary, announced that preliminary voting results showed all directors were re-elected and the company’s stock split proposals approved. She also said that all shareholder motions were rejected without providing preliminary vote numbers; Final voting results are expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within days.

Alphabet investors had made a variety of proposals, including calling for a racial justice audit and pushing for a board diversity report. Google was sued earlier this year by a black employee who alleges the company “participates in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination among its African-American and black employees” and is seeking class-action status.

Several major tech companies have faced similar demands to prove their work is fairer to all races. Apple Inc. AAPL,
+0.58%
Shareholders approved a similar proposal at their annual meeting earlier this year.

For more: Companies have declared that “Black Lives Matter” is, and now they’re being asked to prove it

Laura Campos, director of the Corporate and Political Accountability Program for Lead Filer The Nathan Cummings Foundation, said in a recorded statement supporting the proposal, “We are concerned that Alphabet has some major blind spots when it comes to the adverse impacts of its operations and products on People of Color.”

“The fundamental discrepancies between Alphabet’s perception of its own impact, the conclusions of multiple research papers, and most importantly, the lived experiences of affected communities, underscore the need for third-party verification to assess and clarify the company’s racial justice impact. ‘ she concluded.

“We share the overall goals of advocates for equity and inclusion, and we believe it is important to understand systems and processes. However, we do not believe the proposal is the best way to achieve our common goals,” Hall replied.

Among other shareholder suggestions were calls for more disclosures about the algorithms Google uses in its services, reports of misinformation and disinformation, and disclosures about lobbying.

Alphabet announced plans for a 20-for-1 stock split in February, but had to get shareholder approval to increase the number of shares to complete the split. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN,
+2.30%
Investors approved a similar proposal at the company’s annual meeting on May 25 and announced on Friday that executives expect split-adjusted shares to trade on June 6.

Alphabet’s two stock classes both traded less than 1% higher on Wednesday, as did the S&P 500 index SPX,
-0.28%
and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index COMP,
-0.22%
both traded in the red.

MarketWatch contributor Levi Sumagaysay contributed to this article.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-investors-shoot-down-racial-equity-audit-while-approving-stock-split-11654112210?rss=1&siteid=rss Google Investors Defeat Racial Equity Audit and Approve Stock Split

Brian Lowry

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