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Apple changes bylaws, facing criticism over diversity

The company says it is "actively seeking" qualified women and minorities to add to its board.

James Martin/CNET
Apple has pledged to consider putting more women and minorities on its board of directors, adding language to its corporate charter that states the company's intentions.

"The nominating committee is committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen," the charter (PDF) now says, though it doesn't make any concrete promises. The statement has been on the company's proxy for several years, but not on its charter.

The addition comes after criticism from shareholders Trillium Asset Management and the Sustainability Group, according to Bloomberg. The groups said they were disappointed the company has only one woman on its board and one female executive reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Former Avon CEO Andrea Jung sits on Apple's board, while former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts will be the only female executive reporting to Cook when she begins her job as retail chief this year.

"There is a general problem with diversity at the highest echelon of Apple," Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium, told Bloomberg. "It's all white men."

Shareholders met with the company several times in the past few months about their diversity concerns, according to Bloomberg. The groups intended to bring the issue to a vote at the company's annual shareholder meeting in February, but relented after the corporate charter was altered.

Diversity at the world's largest technology companies has been a hot-button topic of late. Twitter faced criticism for its lack of a female board member right before it went public late last year. The company added Marjorie Scardino, the former CEO of Pearson, to its board in December.

Representatives at Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back.