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Shareholders reject bid to link Google diversity to exec pay

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The logo for Alphabet appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York in February. Google parent Alphabet Inc. has rejected several shareholder proposals aimed at linked executive pay to diversity goals, being more open about its lobbying expenses, narrowing the gender pay gap, and weakening the grip founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have on company voting stock.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. >> Shareholders of Google parent Alphabet Inc. today rejected several proposals aimed at linking executive pay to diversity goals, being more open about lobbying, narrowing the gender-pay gap, and weakening the grip founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have on company voting stock.

The rejection was not a surprise given the company had declared itself opposed to the proposals — in many cases because it said it is addressing the broader issues in other ways — and because Page and Brin control 51 percent of the voting power.

But the proposals reflected the increasing concern about the search giant’s huge influence on technology and its impact on society. Some Google employees came out in favor of the diversity proposal, including Irene Knapp, a Google engineer who read a statement supporting it.

“I very much felt heard by stockholders,” Knapp said afterward.

The diversity proposal was backed by social investor Zevin Asset Management, which pushed it at 12 publicly traded technology firms this year. Zevin said its proposal was challenged by eBay, excluded from Apple’s shareholder meeting by financial regulators, and withdrawn from Amazon on a technicality.

Intel, Microsoft and IBM, however, have established some kind of link between pay and the achievement of diversity goals.

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