Amazon shareholders recently rejected a proposal which called for more diversity of thought on the company’s board and further representation of conservative viewpoints throughout Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce giant.
Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research recently made a proposal aiming to increase diversity on Amazon’s board of directors. Unlike similar proposals in recent years, Danhof aimed to increase the diversity of thought at the firm, this proposal was thoroughly rejected by Amazon shareholders at their annual meeting this week.
In a published statement detailing the proposal, Danhof stated:
Across corporate America, company after company is adopting board diversity policies based on race and gender. These procedures have the stated goal of reducing corporate groupthink and require companies to interview an underrepresented minority and a woman for each open board spot. This isn’t diversity. It’s racism and sexism. Not all women think alike based on the fact that they are women. Similarly, not all Asian or Latino or black Americans think the same based on their respective skin color.
At last year’s annual meeting, Amazon adopted just such a policy. Following this surprising development, I asked Mr. Bezos if the company’s leadership also valued viewpoint diversity, and he claimed that they do. So we submitted a proposal requesting that the company put Mr. Bezos words into actions. However, the board balked at our request. That’s a shame.
Diversity isn’t what someone looks like. It’s the sum of what they think, feel and believe. When the company takes overtly political positions on legal and policy issues, it would be a benefit to have voices from both sides of the aisle in the room.
Danhof then listed some of the left-wing positions that Amazon has taken in recent years, such as the company’s opposition to religious freedom legislation in Texas, the funding of the Human Rights Campaign which Danhof refers to as the nation’s “most bigoted anti-religious organization,” and Amazon’s pledge to oppose President Trump on immigration issues.
Danhof then takes issue with a topic that many have pointed to as a problem for Amazon in recent months — the company’s association with the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center. Danhof states:
Then there is Amazon’s most inexplicable action — allowing the extremists at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to decide which groups are eligible for the Amazon smile charitable program.”‘ Using its fake-hate list with completely subjective criteria, the SPLC lumps pro-family and Christian groups in with the Ku Klux Klan. Many mainstream conservative and Christian groups are shut out of Amazon Smile simply because the SPLC opposes their work.
Danhof states his belief that if Amazon’s board featured conservative members, the company would have cut ties with the SPLC long ago. Danhof ends the proposal stating: “We believe that boards that incorporate diverse perspectives can think more critically and oversee corporate managers more effectively. Appointing a few conservatives may help the company avoid groupthink. That’s a win for investors and a win for true diversity.”
This proposal was thoroughly rejected by shareholders, with the crowd gathered booing and heckling him throughout the proposal. One shareholder suggested that Danhof must be late for a book burning or meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. In response to this, Danhof stated:
It’s clear that the American left has become the most intolerant group of people on the planet. The fact that they so violently reject even the idea of viewpoint diversity is very telling. Engaging with conservatives is so foreign to their ilk that they resort to name-calling and petulance. What a sad lot. Amazon could have shown leadership on this issue and highlighted the value of diverse dialogue. Instead it chose to remain a part of the liberal mob.
The Citizens for Corporate Accountability recently took out a full-page advertisement in the Seattle Times calling for e-commerce giant Amazon to cut ties with the SPLC. In a letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the company’s Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Jay Carney, in April of this year, CCA requested that the e-commerce giant cease its work with the SPLC. CCA specifically took issue with how the SPLC designates certain organizations as “hate groups” and how this has affected the Amazon Smile program which allows Amazon shoppers to donate money to particular charities.
CCA says that the SPLC ranks hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan alongside mainstream conservative organizations in an unfair manner: “The ‘hate group’ list falsely purports to identify dangerous organizations promoting hate and violence, and Amazon has acceded to the demands of SPLC that Amazon terminate participation of named organizations in the Amazon Smile program. However, this list mixes together racist and violent organizations like the Ku Klux Klan with those that simply espouse mainstream political and social views with which the SPLC and apparently many of its donors disagree. For this reason, the list is permanently compromised, and cannot be relied upon for business decisions by Amazon or any other organization.”
Read Justin Danhof’s full Amazon proposal letter here.