Amazon Shareholders Narrowly Approve Executive Pay

Image credit: Amazon

Amazon shareholders deliver rebuke in narrow approval for executive pay, as Facebook owner Meta and Google also face increasing investor activism

Amazon’s shareholders approved executives’ pay by a narrow margin, delivering a reprimand to the company as a record 15 investor resolutions were all defeated.

Only 56 percent of shareholders voted to support executives’ pay for 2021, which included $350 million (£277m) in compensation to three top executives, most of it in stock grants.

Last year 81 percent of shareholders voted in favour of Amazon’s executive pay, with 97 percent in favour the prior two years.

Investor advisory firms had recommende shareholders vote against the pay package at Amazon’s annual meeting last week, saying the awards were execessive and not tied to performance.

Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy. Image credit: Amazon
Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy. Image credit: Amazon

Social proposals

Amazon says its pay practices emphasise long-term value and that the compensation for chief executive Andy Jassy, worldwide consumer unit chief Dave Clark and Amazon Web Services chief Adam Selipsky was comparable to that of leaders at other large tech and retail firms.

Some 15 proposals put forward by shareholders, mostly on labour or social issues, were all defeated, although some only by a narrow margin.

The resolutions included calls for the company to report on worker health and safety and the treatment of its warehouse workers, a review of Amazon’s use of plastic and changes to the company’s process for board nominations.

The call for a plastics review gained 49 percent of votes, the only proposal that came near the 51 percent mark for approval.

Amazon’s board recommended shareholders to vote against all the resolutions, saying in its proxy statement it had already acted to address the underlying concerns of most of the proposals.

Amazon executive chairman Jeff Bezos controls 12.7 percent of the overall vote.

The votes are advisory but Amazon has taken action in the past when votes have reached the 30 percent to 40 percent mark.

Amazon in April reported its first loss since 2015 amidst challenging market conditions.

Facebook anger

The record of 15 shareholder proposals is expected to be surpassed this week when shareholders of Google parent company are putting forward 17 proposals related to social justice, according to research firm Insightia.

Facebook owner Meta Platforms also faced heated criticism from shareholders at its annual meeting last week, with shareholders unhappy about Facebook’s algorithms and controls over misinformation and hate speech.

But no shareholder proposals received more than 30 percent support, in large part due to a voting structure that gives chief executive Mark Zuckerberg majority control.

One angry shareholder called Zuckerberg an “elitist oligarch” during the meeting.

Zuckerberg and the company’s other eight directors received more than 90 percent backing to continue in their roles, days after the New York State pension fund said it would vote against the directors in protest.