Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel
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Better Read those Corporate Annual Meeting Amendments

What benefit does it bring for a company, who has their research and development teams in Israel to remove them solely because they are people who don’t want them to do business here
Illustrative view of Tel Aviv at night, August 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative view of Tel Aviv at night, August 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As a long time shareholder of a specific technology stock I receive emails when annual meetings or amendments are in need of votes.

Usually, there is the typical Board of Directors votes (who will get some nice trips and bonus cash)  and a ratification of their auditors (I always am against them) and some occasional shareholder requests. The latter usually involve executive compensation or the request to see who the company backs(bribes via PACs).

But today was different, for the first time I saw the following 2 items come up for a vote, it is publicly available but I prefer not to hurt the company itself by linking it:

1. APPROVAL TO REQUEST A REPORT DISCLOSING CERTAIN EMPLOYMENT DATA RELATING TO COMPANYA ARAB AND NON-ARAB EMPLOYEES IN ISRAEL-PALESTINE FOR EACH OF THE PAST THREE YEARS.

BOARD RECOMMENDATION: AGAINST

2. APPROVAL TO REQUEST THE BOARD TO FORM A COMMITTEE TO REASSESS POLICIES AND CRITERIA FOR DECISIONS WITH RESPECT TO COMPANYA BUSINESS INVOLVEMENTS WITH ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENTS.

BOARD RECOMMENDATION: AGAINST

Good thing the Board recommends Against these, not sure what direction I would have taken if they said they were FOR them.

What kind of single minded people cares solely about one country? If you want to do something like this, why are you not asking for the worldwide breakdown of each country’s workforce? Why don’t they ask about China or Cuba or Iraq business dealings? I am quite sure their network equipment is everywhere.

Companies make it easy to submit these ideas, not sure how they decide which ones must be on the official notice or not. For now let us presume that if enough emails or discussions about a specific request show up, the company is likely to presume it is of interest and so it appears on the ballot.

We would look odd to the average General Counsel for a company if we sent in messages that ask “should you receive any requests about Israel, please ignore them”. Although, maybe we need to start doing this?

I appreciate there are people in the world who feel there are injustices taking place in Israel. Israel is no better or worse than most other democratic entities. We have problems and we have successes.

What benefit does it bring for a company, who has their Research and Development teams in Israel to remove them solely because they are people who don’t want them to do business here? I believe all major companies with offices here are in a major city and within the core space of Israel’s borders.

I believe all major companies with offices here are in a major city and within the core space of Israel’s borders.  Do they employ Arab and Non_Arab workers here? Yes although I am not sure what am Arab worker is in this situation. Someone from Arabia? Someone Moslem? Someone who’s family has lived here for more than 2 generations?

This insidious attempt to curtail companies business efforts, or in the worst case provides a horrible PR nightmare for them.

It is probably with the best intentions that the Heartland Initiative and Holy Land Principles groups feel the need to do raise this awareness out of personal experience or professional achievement and as the joke goes, “world peace”.

If you buy a few hundred shares and word some things properly you too can achieve bragging rights to say you had a company list your request on their proxy voting statements. There are a lot better, and more productive, ways to achieve notoriety.

There are many better ways to help the region and all of the people in it, but this is not one of them.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor and an IBM Champion.
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