Prepare for even more Trojan horse shareholder proposals from “anti-woke” sources. Microsoft, like other household name companies, attracts a lot of shareholder proposals, and this year’s include inclusive hiring of formerly incarcerated candidates, and reports “assessing how the Company’s 401(k) retirement funds manage the growing systemic risk to the economy created by investing retirement plan funds in companies contributing significantly to climate change, assessing “whether governmental customer use of Microsoft’s technology, including defense contract use, does or can contribute to violations of privacy, civil and human rights,” and on “reputational and financial risks to the company for being identified as a company involved in the development of weapons used by the military for training and/or combat purposes.”
One of the proposals stands out as what could be called “anti-ESG.” Ridgeline Research, the right-leaning firm behind the American Conservative Values ETF uses ESG-style language to disguise an anti-diversity proposal.
We view Microsoft as being organized to provide the best quality goods and services to its customers while maximizing the return to the investors who fund the Company. As with any corporate initiative, prioritizing diversity comes with a cost. It’s clear that Microsoft’s Diversity & Inclusion program (D&I) is a major strategic initiative and as shareholders we feel the Global Diversity & Inclusion Report (2021), lacks a complete analysis of the quantified net benefit to shareholders, costs, and risks and is thus incomplete.
Given the substantial resources committed to the program, as well as its visibility and importance, as shareholders we feel its net benefit should be measured and quantified using sound financial analysis. Without establishing such a full business justification, the program’s benefit to shareholders, as well as its sincerity and motives are in doubt.
The quoted statements below are excerpts from Microsoft’s 2021 Global Diversity & Inclusion Report and are included to denote the size, scope, and importance of its Global Diversity & Inclusion program.“This is our third annual report and our eighth consecutive year of publicly publishing our workforce demographics data. Over that time, diversity, and inclusion (D&I) has evolved far beyond compliance to a key organizational priority and societal expectation”“With this report, we offer a quantified, transparent look at where we are now on D&I, where we’ve made progress, and—most importantly—where we need to improve.”
“Our commitment to this growth starts at the top with a senior leadership team who are themselves steadfastly committed and passionate about the importance of this work to the competitive advantage of the company.”
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that Microsoft issue a public report prior to December 31, 2022, omitting confidential and privileged information and at a reasonable expense, detailing a cost vs. benefits analysis of Microsoft’s Global Diversity & Inclusion efforts. A summation of this report should subsequently be included in the next annual update of Microsoft’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Report.
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Shareholders recommend that the report evaluate any risks, benefits and costs to the company associated with Microsoft’s Global Diversity & Inclusion program, initiatives, policies, and training, alongside a valuation of the programs corresponding implicit benefit. In its discretion, the board’s analysis may include any costs or effects on employee morale and cohesion, hiring, retention, and productivity, etc. (collectively the components of “competitive advantage”) Presented in an objective quantifiable manner which will allow a cost benefit analysis. The Report should be calculated with the most recent annual reporting periods data.Microsoft DEF14A