updated 11:40 pm EST, Fri February 28, 2014
Conservative group's proposal questioned costs of environmental initiatives, more
A shareholder questioner from a conservative front group, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), who questioned Apple's humanitarian policies of worker education, services for the disabled, and particularly environmental initiatives -- and also demanded that the company commit to only policies and projects that were explicitly profitable -- was sternly rebuked by Apple CEO Tim Cook in an unusually direct exchange.
Cook was visibly and audibly offended by the questions, say observers present at the annual Apple Shareholder's Meeting, and was described as "clearly angry" and as having "lost his cool" at the proposal, which called for Apple to put profit ahead of all other concerns in everything the company does, Mac Observer reported. He categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR's mentality, saying that their are many things Apple does simply because they are "right and just," without consideration to the possible return on investment (ROI).
"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," Cook allegedly said to the questioner in an unusually rapid-fire response, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He went on to say that the same rationale applied to environmental issues, worker safety and education and other areas where he described the company as "a leader" among the industry's various other companies.
Cook ended his answer by looking directly at the NCPPR representative and saying "if you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock." The group later issued a press release criticizing Cook, claiming that shareholder value is "destroyed" in pursuit of such goals, critical and referring to climate change as a hoax spearheaded by Apple board member (and former Vice President) Al Gore.
The shareholder proposal was, however, voted on -- with the NCPPR position receiving just 2.95 percent in favor. With both the company itself, the Board of Directors and 97 percent of voting shareholders behind him, Cook sent a clear signal that policies on transparency, environmental concern and protection of civil rights -- all "political" causes the company has undertaken -- will continue.