SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley technology firms are known for giving stock to their workers, a form of compensation that often helps employees feel invested in their companies.
But tech workers are now starting to use those shares to turn the tables on their employers. As many tech employees take a more activist approach to how their innovations are being deployed and increasingly speak out on a range of issues, some are using the stock as a way to demand changes at their companies.
At Amazon, more than a dozen employees who had received stock grants recently exercised their rights as shareholders. In late November and early December, they filed identical shareholder petitions asking the e-commerce giant to release a comprehensive plan addressing climate change.
Their filing appears to be the first time that tech employees have led their own shareholder proposal, according to activist investors. In the proposal, which will be voted on at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting next spring, employees asked the company’s board to say how it would respond to climate change and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
“We realized we could use our position as employees and our power and our rights as shareholders to bring visibility of this issue to the board and the top leaders of this company,” said Eliza Pan, a program manager who has worked at Amazon for five years and is one of the employees who signed on to the proposal.
Ms. Pan, who earned Amazon shares as part of her compensation package, said workers must own at least $2,000 in stock for a year