Activist institutional investors, the public pension fund CalSTRS and Jana Partners, have begun a campaign calling on the technology giant, Apple, to consider the evidence that children that are excessively using electronic devices, such as its I-phone, may be damaged by this and to support parents to control their usage.
In an open letter to Apple, which is due to hold its AGM for shareholders next month (13th February), the investors said they have examined expert evidence and based on this they “believe there is a clear need for Apple to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner. “
Evidence cited by CalSTRS included a study conducted recently by the Center on Media and Child Health and the University of Alberta that found that 67% of the over 2,300 teachers surveyed observed that the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom is growing and 75% say students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased. In the past 3 to 5 years since personal technologies have entered the classroom, 90% stated that the number of students with emotional challenges has increased and 86% said the number with social challenges has increased.
The letter indicated that the investors believe that by taking action on this Apple would be demonstrating its pioneering role as a developer of improved technology as well as ultimately boosting its long-term value as a company.
“As a company that prides itself on values like inclusiveness, quality education, environmental protection, and supplier responsibility, Apple would also once again be showcasing the innovative spirit that made you the most valuable public company in the world“, the letter added.
The investors call on Apple to take specific actions to address their concerns including forming a committee of experts and specialists to research and study this issue and monitor ongoing developments in technology. Additionally, the investors encourage Apple to offer parents more tools by enhancing mobile device software to enable age-appropriate setup options including limiting screen time and setting up parental monitoring.
CalSTRS director of corporate governance Anne Sheehan said: “We hold Apple in very high regard given their prominence as a leading innovator in the technology industry and the work they are doing to develop next generation solutions. Apple has an impressive history of being attentive to creating advancements that will appeal to their expanding customer base, as well as taking responsible actions that are supportive of long-term value creation and risk reduction for their shareholders.“
CalSTRS said Apple is the largest holding in its domestic equities portfolio worth close to $1.9 billion as of 31st December 2017. Apple, due to its market value and global dominance, has been the previously been the target of a range of investor-led campaigns which it has responded to including around proxy access, employee diversity and environmental issues.Last Updated: 12 January 2018