Apple Low on Diversity But High on Promise


IMG: via Apple.

This past Tuesday, Apple Inc. released its first workforce diversity report, confirming that its employees are predominantly white men. The finding is typical for companies in the Silicon Valley: Google and Twitter employees are 70% male, respectively, and Facebook is 69% male.

These diversity reports come after pressure from Reverend Jesse Jackson and the organization Rainbow PUSH for transparency about diversity in technological fields. In the wake of Apple’s report, Jackson released a press release to “personally commend [Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook] for stepping up to the plate.”

Despite Jackson’s encouraging response, Google’s 98,000-strong workforce is 61% white, 30% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 2% black.

The lack of diversity is even more evident in management and leadership positions. Only 28% of Apple executives and managers are female, and of that number, 64% are white. The combined percentage of Hispanic and black executives is only 6%.

However, Cook admitted that Apple plans to work more to improve its diversity—including the very definition of it.

“Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender and ethnicity,” he wrote in an address at the end of the report. “It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities. Who we are, where we come from, and what we’ve experienced influence the way we perceive issues and solve problems. We believe in celebrating that diversity and investing in it.

“We’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products,” he concluded.

Apple also promotes diversity in the workplace by allowing employees to march in San Francisco’s Pride Parade and with company-wide support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. In addition, Apple’s retail operations are currently overseen by Angela Ahrendts, and its human resources department is headed by Densie Young-Smith. Sue Wagner has also been recently added to the board of directors.

How these initiatives will continue to promote diversity in the workplace, both for Apple and other technology companies, remains to be seen.

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