Shareholders of tech giants fail to address pension savers’ concerns surrounding AI

Ffion White

by , PR Manager

18 June 2024 /  

18
June 2024

Man holding a phone, with AI graphics showing

Despite mounting concerns from pension savers, shareholders of three of the biggest US tech companies that form a significant portion of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ have dismissed calls to address the risks associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments.

The news follows previous research by PensionBee, a leading online pension provider, that indicated that approximately 10% of defined contribution pension savers’ funds in the UK are invested in the US tech giants, collectively known as the ‘Magnificent Seven’, which includes Amazon, Meta (the parent company of Facebook), and Alphabet (the parent company of Google).

A recent survey of PensionBee customers1 revealed that nearly three-quarters (72%) believe shareholders should leverage their voting rights to influence how tech companies utilise AI. This strong sentiment reflects a growing apprehension among pension savers regarding the ethical and operational implications of AI.

Previous findings also showed significant support from pension savers2 for shareholder resolutions at Amazon, Meta (Facebook), and Alphabet (Google) annual general meetings (AGMs). However, these resolutions ultimately failed to pass, underscoring a disconnect between shareholder actions and pension savers’ concerns.The results of the related shareholder resolutions at each AGM were as follows:

Amazon: During Amazon’s AGM, a shareholder resolution was introduced urging Amazon’s Board to establish a committee of independent directors to address AI-associated risks. Further research by PensionBee showed that almost half (45%) of their customers supported this resolution. Unfortunately, it garnered only 10% of the vote.

Meta (Facebook) & Alphabet (Google): Meta and Alphabet’s AGMs included a shareholder resolution requesting the Board to issue a report assessing the risks associated with generative Artificial Intelligence (gAI) and proposing remedial measures. This resolution was supported by 68% of PensionBee customers surveyed. Despite this backing, the resolution received only 17% of the vote at Meta’s AGM and 18% at Alphabet’s AGM.

Alphabet (Google): At Alphabet’s AGM, a shareholder resolution called for an independent third-party Human Rights Impact Assessment of Google’s advertising policies and practices. Despite the apparent support, the resolution failed to pass, receiving only 19% of the vote.

Clare Reilly, Chief Engagement Officer at PensionBee, commented: “The failure of these resolutions is a disappointment for pension savers who tell us that they are increasingly concerned about the ethical implications of AI.

“We see a strong desire among savers for greater accountability and transparency in how AI is developed and deployed by these tech giants. Their management teams have a responsibility to listen to these concerns and take action to mitigate potential risks. The rapid pace at which AI technology is advancing brings with it significant ethical and social considerations, and it’s imperative that these are not overlooked in the pursuit of innovation.

“PensionBee’s research shows that pension savers are not just passive investors; they are keenly aware of the broader impact of their investments and are calling for responsible stewardship from the companies in which they are invested. This is particularly crucial in the tech sector, where the decisions made today about AI could have far-reaching consequences for society.”

Footnotes

  1. The survey results are based on the responses of 378 PensionBee customers. The survey was run in April 2024.

  2. The survey results are based on the responses of 1,000 UK residents – aged 18-66 – who either are currently contributing to a pension or have a pension that they are not currently contributing to (not including the State Pension). The survey was run in April 2024.

Be pension confident!

Combine your old pension pots into one new online plan. It takes just a few minutes to sign up.

Get started

Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Apple Store logo Google Store logo

Have a question?Call our UK team020 3457 8444

Monday-Friday: 9:30am-5pm