Nuns chastise Google and Eric names Larry greatest human alive

Shareholders complaints fall on deaf ears, probably

Pic: Alex Tihonovs/Shutterstock

Nuns calling for greater transparency over "dark money" lobbying practices, Larry Page being hailed by Eric Schmidt as one of the greatest humans alive today, and extreme gender pay disparity. Yep, it's the Alphabet Annual Meeting of Shareholders!

Kicking off the yearly get-together of various investors, Schmidt was on typically low-key form when introducing his co-founder. "And of course we have Larry Page. It's hard to describe the contribution that Larry Page has made to the world. I'd like to say that he is one of the most extraordinary human beings alive today, and I'll stop there."

However, the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore and of Pan de Vida, among other investors, were more interested in Alphabet's other contributions. Specifically those made to non-profit organisations that use cash to influence elections without disclosing the sources of their funding.

"Alphabet has refused calls to disclose what it contributes to so-called dark money non-profit," reads the co-filing. "These are entities that can receive payments from corporations but do not have to disclose the source of those contributions. Since 2012, dark money groups fit more than 670 million to influence electoral outcomes."

It added: "The reputation risks are not hypothetical as Alphabet has come under heavy criticism and the media for its aggressive lobbying of the European commission."

The proposal for greater lobbying transparency was presented without comment from Alphabet.

It's not the first time the issue of dark money raised has been brought up. Shareholders were snubbed last year when they raised the subject at the AGM.

Another familiar issue to arise was Alphabet's failure to report its companywide pay gap. "Payscale reports the Company has a mean pay gap of 13 per cent over $13,000 and Glassdoor has reported $25,000 gap at the senior engineering level," noted Natasha Lamb, director of Equity Research and Shareholder Engagement and a Portfolio Manager at Arjuna Capital.

Alphabet is currently subject of an investigation by the Department of Labor alleging extreme gender pay disparity.

Schmidt said: "We feel very strongly that gender pay equity is an important principal at Google. We run internal surveys at a regular basis and we do believe to pay equally across genders throughout the Company. So we're continuing to make progress on that."

Until next year, folks... ®

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