The next time someone trots out the tired old "companies are legally obligated to maximize profits/shareholder value" to explain away crappy corporate behavior, I'm linking to this.
And kudos to Cook for telling NCPPR to take a figurative hike.
It's such an idiotic line and is usually given as a poor substitute for reasoning about a company's actions.
The meme about "profit maximization" is one of those Keynesian sayings "of a defunct economist" that seems to rule people's imaginations.
What he's doing IS MAXIMISING SHAREHOLDER VALUE! In the long term the sustainability projects will be important. Over 97% of shareholders rejected the proposal put forward so technically he was doing what the majority of the shareholders agreed with.
Did the stock go up after the event? http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=AAPL&t=5d&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=
What this should really say is "obligated to maximize shareholder demands". It has nothing to do with ROI per se, just that the CEO is legally obligated to perform the demands of the shareholders. For public companies, 99% of the time that means maximizing short term profits to make institutional investors happy.
Like it or not, that's the way it is and not every CEO gets to be Tim Cook who has A LOT more leeway with investors than the CEO of "random fortune 500 company".
The NCPPR's view that Apple should do the minimum necessary to meet government environmental rules in order to maximise profits is short-sighted. A lot of people care about environmental issues - as well as things like labour concerns with the factories in China. By doing the right thing and addressing public concerns on these issues, Apple enhances its reputation, which can in turn lead to greater profits.
Tim Cook has a responsibility to protect himself as CEO, the company itself, and the other shareholders, from manipulative questioning by a fringe group. He also has a responsibility to stand for the company's values.
And anyway, actions speak louder than words. What I know of Apple is that it had a CEO who orchestrated keeping wages down for engineers, orchestrated price fixing of ebooks, kept taking credit for other people's work, frequently partook in borderline psychopathic behavior (woz: "I begged Steve that we donate the first Apple I to a woman who took computers into elementary schools but he made my buy it and donate it myself."), etc. etc. If Tim Cook actually goes on to commit some serious dollar on philanthropic activities, I would change my mind about Apple, until then, it's clear that it's all a bullshit PR dance.
In which case they are going to be accused of doing a "bullshit PR dance." Damned if you do...
I saw both the Delaware version and the California version of eBay vs. Craigslist. Neither had anything to do with philanthropy. They involved a poison pill strategy. At the risk of standing in the way of a good rant, I think you'll need a better example.