Tim Cook 'not satisfied' with Apple's diversity report

Apple CEO Tim Cook is following up on their splashy video on diversity from earlier this summer with some hard and apparently disappointing numbers. A human resources report from Apple shows that 55% of employees are white, and 70% are male.

Here's what Cook had to say on the issue.

"Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page. 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. Inclusion and diversity have been a focus for me throughout my time at Apple, and they're among my top priorities as CEO. I'm proud to work alongside the many senior executives we've hired and promoted in the past few years, including Eddy Cue and Angela Ahrendts, Lisa Jackson and Denise Young-Smith. The talented leaders on my staff come from around the world, and they each bring a unique point of view based on their experience and heritage. And our board of directors is stronger than ever with the addition of Sue Wagner, who was elected in July."

Good on Cook for publishing these numbers and reasserting Apple's efforts for improved diversity in the tech sector. As we all know, it's an industry that could use a better sense of inclusion.

Source: Apple

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Tim Cook 'not satisfied' with Apple's diversity report

49 Comments

I'm not sure I understand. If you're judging employees on their qualifications alone then things like skin color, gender & sexual orientation become irrelevant. Then how do you increase the numbers if not to discrimiate against white males?

When you have white males interviewing other people, what do you think they look for? White male traits. It happens, and obviously white males are the ones who meet the criteria.

He's not saying they're going to hire based on your skin or gender or anything other than what you said. What Tim is saying is that he is going to make more of an effort to reduce the clutter of human intuition about race, cultural bias, etc. At least, this is how I hear what he's saying.

By that logic, I shouldn't have gotten my last 2 jobs, nor my promotion, as I'm white, and the interviewers were black. Over 90% of my coworkers are black. Can I say it's racist that I'm one of the only white people? I mean, hundreds of employees, not a small number.

Racism is systemic and systematic discrimination is another thing. I think we need to understand and talk in terms that are fitting because to label someone racist may not be a fair assessment. The legal justice system is racist. It has the ability to affect entire groups of society. Corporate hiring practices can be racist. Donald Sterling is racist. We can have racially motivated police officers etc. I don't think that a policy to level the playing field in tech by being inclusive is racist. It is actually the opposite. Being more inclusive of people of color and women in an industry where they are by a far cry outweighed by white men is important. One more glass ceiling to be broken. I was happy to see Lisa Jackson put a dent in that ceiling.
People are tribal. And there is still a good ol' boys club. It's still a fact that women get paid less than men for the same job. It is what it is. If we can address the facts and try to fix it name who cares what you call it, let's make it fair and equitable and look more like what America looks like... Mexican
Just kidding... Diverse!

Well, I have a few things to say with that. Can't really say definitively say how much of the racism you see is actually based on race, and how much is based on people of said race doing something illegal.

As in, I'd imagine, but could be wrong, that most illegal immigration is from people of South American/Island descent. So to say "The immigration system is racist against South Americans/Islanders" would be wrong, as could be here.

Until someone can prove "These minority tech people were denied a job because they are a minority" vs "We didn't get that many minority applicants" I don't think we can say racism/discrimination until there is a study. I would agree, bad schools could be preventing them from thinking they'd get the job, but that isn't the case. Tech companies are well known to fight for equality. Google and Apple both hire without care to race, they just require a qualified applicant.

Basically, it happens to be discrimination sometimes, but I'd say it's assumed to be racial a lot of times when it isn't. Don't think I'll reply again though, as this usually ends in a long argument from what I've experienced.

No.
It means that if you're a minority applying for a job with the same (or even better) skills, resume, and personality as someone who is white, male and applying for the same position, that you'll get the same chance, which is not the standard case within the US.

"....you'll get the same chance, which is not the standard case within the US."

Is this hyperbole or do you have any data to back this statement up?

I've seen this first hand at my job. It sucks that something as trivial as your name which you had no control over can get you passed on smh

Its sad when we have to start handing lesser qualified individuals jobs just because we need to fill some BS liberal quota.

EARN your job.... don't expect it. If I were in a minority (and I believe I am, or will be very soon) I would expect nothing less. No handouts, please... that makes it worse IMHO.

According to the 2013 census stats, Apple is actually far more diverse than the nation (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html).

The white (non-Hispanic) population is 63% nationwide, so 55% is actually quite good.
The female population is 50.8% (a majority), so 70% male is actually MORE diverse than the rest of the country too. :)

(Yes, I know what he means. I'm just pointing out the stats for funsies.)

Thank you for doing so. You highlight the problem with these kinds of reports. I hope that was your intent. As another has stated, if you are focusing in getting these numbers up, above all else, you risk quality. If you are truly looking to fill positions based on most qualified, race, gender, and sexual orientation should have zero impact. I know why there are laws/policies like Affirmative Action, but in a perfect world, we wouldn't need them or, worse, have quotas to meet just to check a box.

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That was kinda my point. Don't get numbers just for numbers' sake. Get the best quality you can.

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Did I just step into a time machine to the past? I thought racism and sexism were things of the past? Wasn't a war fought so we would no longer judge people on the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character? It's 2014, and Apple's CEO is advocating hiring based on race and gender, rather than wearing blinders and hiring based on skills and talent. Wow.

I totally agree. Society doesn't seem to realise that all anyone seems to talk about these days is what colour your skin is, whether your male or female, gay or not. I realise this might be a controversial thing to say, buts it's getting really quite boring.

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Unless you are being sarcastic, yes a war was fought over race and after that war you had Jim Crow and the 60s. I'm all for 'race-less' and 'gender-less' job hiring. Yet I would be naive to think that gender bias (psychcentral.com › News › Work and Career News) and race (www.upenn.edu/provost/images/uploads/Gender.Racial_.Bias_.pdf and www.usatoday.com/.../12/02/on-the-job-sex-race-discrimination/1736513). So yeah we haven't reached that ideal. A few more years to come yet where the Federation even accepts Klingons.

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Why is a natural bias bad? You really think in the past, Apple has hired people only because they are white males, and not because of their skills and ability? If the ratio of races or gender in a certain profession don't match the ratios of the population, so what? Do you not understand supply and demand of the workforce? By your logic, basketball teams should put more white players on their teams, so they are more "diverse", instead of getting the most talented players. This is silly. The racists of today are the ones who keep bringing it up.

you musn't have heard of the white guilt socialist agenda sweeping the nation. anytime a straight white male is hired for a well known position, they go nuts.

I would be interested to see how nationality is factored into these numbers, as Apple is one of the larger H1B sponsors in the country, and the video and press release focus on diversity in the United States. For example, while a Japanese citizen on a work visa may count towards Apple's 15% Asian statistic, her hiring has little bearing any discrimination faced by that US minority.

Yeah, break up the employee ranks. It's not as is they've accomplished anything important or groundbreaking these last 10-to-15 years. Oh, wait...

what else is new slavery times are over we don't owe those blacks a damn thing anymore . quit whinning get a brain then maybe they will get a good job

Lack of capitalization, errors in punctuation in both sentences, no understanding of independent clauses, misspelling of "whining," improper shift from second person imperative to third person -- that is an awful lot of mistakes to cram into 31 words telling other people to "get a brain."

Unless you are a troll, in which case, I salute you.

Surely if you want to avoid any discrimination then you should forget about gender and skin colour and focus on whether an individual is qualified to do a job. If Tim Cooks policy really honestly is zero discrimination then he should be satisfied that people at Apple are there on merit. What percentage of people are black, white, men, women or whatever else should be irrelevant. Talking about having so many people from this category and so many from that is just about as discriminative as it gets.

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which might beg the issue of racial diversity in the institutions Apple may hire from the most. I mean, how diverse is Stanford, Caltech, etc.. etc. Then you'd have to look into the diversity in the uni departments Apple hires the most from, then eventually how the application process in these institutions work, then wonder why such or such race is over/under represented, then maybe dig into the secondary school system biases, etc.

Endless

The more I think about it I realize I am not a Cook fan at all. Not only is he the most boring person in the keynotes, but he spends a lot of time on stupid social issues.

I'm sure the shareholders would rather hear that Apple is hiring based on the quality of the employee and their skill / talent at that position. Furthermore, though customers like the idea of supporting a company with such "progressive" and "inclusive" ideas, in the end they would rather have quality products.

Tim, You should focus more on employing the best and the brightest rather than filling a quota, otherwise you're not a good business man. Disregarding ANYONE based on their race or gender is a terrible business move.

What a load of crap! Men/boys tend to be more interested in technology stuff. So there are naturally going to be more qualified men out there. (Doesn't mean that women are not capable). The Rap music industry is mostly black. But I don't hear them saying that there aren't enough whites in the Rap industry. Enough with this social engineering crap. Maybe there are more qualified whites out there, than blacks. Did that ever occur to you Mr. Cook?! If you are so concerned with this nonsense, why don't you try to see why there are more (per capita) qualified whites? Or would that no be politically correct???!

Good for Apple for finally putting out these numbers. It's pretty sad that one of the oldest tech companies is still the old white boys club. Good for Cook for trying to make a change.

Some of these comments are a bit sad.

its america, how is 50% white an old white boys club? how about samsung in korea? pretty sure its 100% korean. also, if the company was 100% islamic nobody would care, yet if its majority white its somehow a problem, even in their own country.

you're sad.

Honestly, who cares about the ratio at Apple Inc. I don't care what color you are, male or female, if you can do the job, your hired!! And I'm so ready for the iPhone 6!!!

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Wow. Look at the can of worms that Cook's statement has opened up. This is a damn shame to see adults still arguing about this in 2014. Any time a company says they want to make an effort to increase diversity, the response is often "that's reverse discrimination!" I have seen some unfair hiring practices. I've seen people go one someone's FB page to see what they look like. Some of you may have been hired because you're a Gator and not a 'Nole. Why are people pissed about this? You should be happy.
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Whaaaat.....! They don't have any umpalumpas working for them... How dare they! They are ignoring a whole group! Thankfully Willy Wonka never denied them gainful employment. ;)

And once again we continue to lower the standards all in the name of "diversity". What ever happened to getting a job on merit and a proven track record?

What ever happened to hiring the "best person for the job." Put interviewers and candidates in separate dark rooms and use some type of voice blurring to ask and answer questions. When you start hiring by race or sex because you haven't met "quota" for the month or year, you don't get the best person for the job and nobody wins. Besides we tried all this before prior to the Civil Rights movement. It didn't work then, won't work now.

Great discussion.... I wonder how Apple's demographics fits with the general tech industry? I'm asking this because I suspect in the tech space there is a predominantly male bias in available workforce..... the reasons are many and some are common sense even if there's no research to prove it.

It's an extremely complex space that this debate has helped to illustrate and it's filled with counter-intuitive statistics and logical non-sequiturs.

What is the national demographic of those with matching qualifications?

The nation itself might have biases built into it's education system - e.g In the US if a student is from an economically deprived background (which fortunately tends to be dominated by specific racial groups according to region) it's quite hard, versus other Western democracies, to get decent university qualifications assuming you're bright enough to get in.

then...

What is the demographic of those applying with matching requirements?

If it's off then maybe the employer is missing out on a recruitment opportunity or it's mix of candidate sources is off?

then

What is the demo of the group/department the candidate ends up in... does it match the previous two demos?

Also what is the demo of that group in other companies bearing in mind the above national and applicant demos?

If that is different then I would accept that other factors are at play as the company would then be outside the general industry distribution.

In all cases the (possibly faulty) assumption is that perfect candidates are evenly distributed across the pool of candidates.

From the employers pov it really has nothing to do with the overall national demographic (m/f or race split) as they are only interested in those with matching qualifications (and demographics of that pool)... if that pool is different to the national demo then it's a national problem that the company can't solve.

I have a hard time believing that modern public tech companies have inherent racial bias in their hiring policies or execution - if that were the case there wouldn't be so many H visas awarded to tech companies to bring in people from other nations (who happen to be an entirely different race altogether) and so many foreign research outposts and think-tanks set up by those companies to source in yet more talent.

I have an easy time thinking that the demographic of qualified candidates is different to the general national demographic. And the reasons for this difference are complex and hard to resolve.

Race aside I know in the UK there has been effort in public education to improve female participation (and qualifications) in the sciences and technology - recently, for the first time ever, UK girls outperformed boys in high school graduation science exams leading to a increase in the proportion of female science degree applicants. It's hoped that this will eventually help balance job ratios in the science/tech space and a broadening of research and development efforts. Small steps but steps nevertheless.