Bank of America and Citigroup shareholders rejected proposed audits of the companies’ anti-racism policies Tuesday during their annual meetings.
Conservative shareholder-activists bought stock in the two banks to present the proposals, which suggest the companies’ diversity training and minority hiring quotas foster reverse discrimination against Whites.
An undisclosed majority of shareholders at both companies followed corporate instructions in their proxy statements to vote against the proposals.
Activists from the National Center for Public Policy Research, a think tank based in Washington, bought stock in the companies to fight “woke” policies in boardrooms. They claim to have presented more than 100 proposals at shareholder meetings over the past four years.
“Active discrimination on the basis of race, sex and orientation is illegal and wrong, whoever it’s aimed at,” Scott Shepard, director of the center’s Free Enterprise Project, said Tuesday in a statement.
Proposal 5 in Bank of America’s 2022 proxy statement asked its board of directors to “commission a racial equity audit analyzing the Company’s impacts on civil rights and non-discrimination, and the impacts of those issues on the Company’s business.” The board recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.
“Our shareholders, employees, customers, and communities are well-served by our continuous, transparent, and holistic pursuit of Responsible Growth that includes continued engagement and progress on racial equality, civil rights, and nondiscrimination,” the board wrote.
Proposal 9 in Citigroup’s proxy statement requested an audit from “an independent and unbiased third party with input from civil-rights organizations, employees, communities in which the Company operates and other stakeholders, of all viewpoints and perspectives.”
“Citi believes that the stockholder Proposal is not necessary in light of Citi’s ongoing work, policies, and training supporting equal employment opportunities for all employees,” the board said in its recommendation.
Bank of America declined to comment Tuesday.
A Citibank spokesperson said in an email that the company does not see merit-based hiring and diversity programming as “being in conflict with each other.”
“We strongly disagree with the proponent’s fundamental concern that anti-racist programs are themselves racist,” Danielle Romero-Apsilos told The Washington Times.
Conservative shareholder-activists have increasingly fought back against left-wing politics in America’s boardrooms.
At Coca-Cola’s shareholders meeting on Tuesday, the Free Enterprise Project asked the company to end its sponsorship of the Human Rights Campaign over the LGBT advocacy group’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. The measure has drawn fire from gay rights groups for banning gender identity discussions in K-3 public school classrooms.
Coke’s board did not respond to the Free Enterprise Project’s request during the meeting.
Last week, Levi Strauss shareholders voted down another proposal from the project to audit the jean company’s race-based hiring policies.
And Walt Disney Co. shareholders rejected an earlier antiracism audit proposal from the project at their annual meeting last month.
Conservatives said they plan to keep fighting until the policies change.
“When public companies take sides in political debates, it is to the detriment of company shareholders,” said Ed Rensi, a former CEO of McDonald’s USA who is heading a “boardroom initiative” to expand the number of proposals.
• Sean Salai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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