- Amazon shareholders represented by consumer group SumOfUs have submitted a shareholder resolution, which was emailed to Retail Dive, calling on the company to separate the role of CEO and chair of the board, creating an independent board chair.
- SumOfUs has also commissioned a plane to fly over Amazon's annual general meeting Wednesday with a banner sporting the hashtag #BEZOSNEEDSABOSS, according to a release. Members of the SEIU, 350 Seattle, Socialist Alternative and the Seattle community will also join SumOfUs in a march to Amazon's Fremont Studios location, the organization said.
- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos currently serves both as CEO and chairman of the board. The e-commerce giant declined to comment.
SumOfUs cites experts, including proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis, along with academic research, supporting the notion that an independent board chair is better able to oversee executives and set a pro-shareholder agenda "without the management conflicts that exist when a CEO or other executive also serves as chairman," according to the release. Separating the two roles is par for the course in Europe and for 51% of S&P 500 boards, according to SumOfUs.
The group also believes that, with Amazon increasingly facing criticism over its employment policies and its relationship with the communities where it operates, independent board leadership would move to "mitigate these business risks."
"There is a clear conflict of interest when a corporation's board of directors, which is responsible for overseeing the CEO and representing shareholders, is chaired by that same CEO," SumOfUs Capital Markets Advisor Lisa Lindsley said in a statement. "An independent board chair is a necessary first step to put Amazon's board on the path to effective representation of the interests of all shareholders."
Through a petition earlier this year, SumOfUs also called on Amazon to stop streaming NRATV, a channel supported by the company's Prime video service, in the aftermath of a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.