Apple’s Diversity Report Sparks Tim Cook Angst

Apple has become the latest tech company to release a diversity report—as well as the latest tech company to publicly wring its hands over the lack of diversity among its employees in the United States.

Apple Diversity Report“As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a statement accompanying the report. “They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”

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By Apple’s own accounting, 55 percent of its U.S. staff (including retail) is Caucasian; roughly 15 percent is Asian; 11 percent Hispanic; 7 percent black; 2 percent “two or more”; 1 percent “other”; and 9 percent undeclared.

Breaking things down a little further, Apple’s leadership team is 64 percent Caucasian, 21 percent Asian, 6 percent Hispanic, 3 percent black, and 6 percent undeclared. Its tech employees are 54 percent Caucasian, 23 percent Asian, 7 percent Hispanic, 6 percent black, 2 percent two or more, and 8 percent undeclared.

As a company, Apple is 70 percent male and 30 percent female; in tech positions, the ratio becomes even more lopsided, at 80 percent male to 20 percent female.

In his note, Cook also claimed that Apple has invested in diversity beyond that measured by the report. “Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity,” he wrote. “It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities.”

(And yes, in true Apple style, the report comes with an uplifting video.)

Compare Apple’s numbers to those of its archrival Google, where 61 percent of employees are Caucasian, 30 percent Asian, 4 percent two or more, 3 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and less than 1 percent “other.” Like Apple, Google is also 70 percent male and 30 percent female. The numbers are similar at other major tech firms, including Facebook and Yahoo. Many of those companies have pledged to do more for diversity, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll transform words into substantive action.

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8 Responses to “Apple’s Diversity Report Sparks Tim Cook Angst”

  1. Sven Trio

    I fail to see the problem, Mr. Cook. If race is merely a social construct, and women can do any job a man can do, then why would it matter what race and gender makes up his workforce?

    Are we not all equal? Are we not all the same? If we are, then a company full of White guys is no different than a company that looks like a Pepsi commercial.

    So I say again. If we’re all equal, what’s the problem?

    • Shantal

      That’s an interesting analogy Sven, and I consider it quite humorous since I tend to avoid Pepsi and other things that might endanger my health. A portion of the quote was, “Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity. It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities.”

      This would imply that they have an exclusionary definition of diversity or that there are some elements of diversity that are generally unrecognizable or otherwise unimportant. I noticed that Native Americans were not even mentioned in this diversity report. I wonder if we are regressing in the technological world rather than progressing, particularly as a consumer.

  2. Kevin T.

    For all of the boasting corporations do these days about diversity, I have yet to see any companies who value diversity in terms of age. For example, just try to get a job in an IT company if you’re over 50!

  3. I am a career changer with 2 certifications, knowledge, skill and ability to perform the functions as needed and can’t get a job due to discrimination due to either age or race. If we are to build a better community and product, we need to recognize that good ideas come from all people and not just a chosen few.

    Genius has no ethnicity make-up or background from which to choose.

    • Shantal

      I agree with the comments above, all are highly factual statements unfortunately. It seems that Mr. Cook was unable to formulate a logical denial of this irrefutable fact finding. Those highly skilled and talented IT professionals who have been legitimately discriminated against have no problem doing so. It has been said that people often hire others who resemble them in some way. For instance a young 26 year old male project lead is likely to employ a team of people who are also male and in their twenties. Unfortunately this attitude eliminates candidates with significantly more work experience with the foresight to avoid various project oriented pitfalls.

  4. This and other diversity reports would be much more interesting and ultimately useful if they also reported the breakdown of those who applied. If the majority of applicants are white males, then it follows that the majority hired will be white males. If that is not the case, then report the details of who applied and a comparison of their qualifications so that some relevant conclusions can be made. Otherwise, we have no way of determining if the problem is with a firm’s hiring practices or a general lack of interest, education or experience on the part of the more “diverse” group.

    • Unfortunately, diversity is a very complex issue and there cannot be such a summation of the issue by a blanket generalization or easy statement. I am personally surprised that this information is even reported at all as in the days of Ada Byron it would not have been.