Apple shuts down internal employee surveys on pay, claims report

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Apple Park (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has allegedly forced employees to shut down two surveys into pay at the company.
  • A third attempt is underway, and there's little Apple can do to stop it.

Apple has reportedly killed two employee surveys into how much they are being paid, but that isn't stopping a third from running outside of its control. According to a new report, more than 500 respondents have already offered up their data for the new survey — and there's little Apple can do about it.

Apple employee Cher Scarlett is the driving force behind the new survey, setting it up on Typeform to avoid any potential Apple involvement:

According to reports, previous attempts to run such surveys have been thwarted by Apple, initially because it was concerned about the personally identifiable information that was being collected. The second was allegedly killed because it used Apple's corporate Box account, something the company wasn't keen on. According to The Verge

The first known survey began in the spring and asked people to volunteer salary information in addition to how they identify in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. After about 100 responses, Apple's people team — the company's name for what is commonly called human resources — asked employees to take the survey down, saying the demographic questions constituted personally identifying information, or PII.

Now, Scarlett says a third attempt is underway, avoiding any potential Apple action by using a personally-funded Typeform account to handle the survey.

"I was looking at (a website that lets people compare salary data across companies) and noticed a few very low salaries in a certain geographic area that were 10 to 15 percent lower compared to other people on the team," Scarlett says. "Every time I looked at gender, they were women. I'm not going to say that's a definitive issue, but it's a prompt for anyone to ask if this is a widespread problem. We should be able to easily find out whether or not that's the case so we can know whether people are truly being paid fairly."

The Verge cites lawyers who claim Apple can't prevent employees from discussing pay:

"Apple cannot bar its employees from discussing pay equity as it relates to protected classes," says Vincent P. White, a labor lawyer with White, Hilferty & Albanese. "If they were, they could tell people not to talk about pronouns. The logical outgrowth of that doesn't even track. I view their effort to shut this down as an act of retaliation."

When contacted for comment, Apple pointed iMore to its Business Conduct policy, which states that "While we expect employees to follow the Business Conduct Policy, nothing in this Policy should be interpreted as being restrictive of your right to speak freely about your wages, hours, or working conditions." According to Apple's Inclusion & Diversity page the company states "Apple has a firm and long‑standing commitment to pay equity. Globally, employees of all genders earn the same when engaging in similar work with comparable experience and performance. In the United States, the same is true for employees of all races and ethnicities." Apple also states that it reviews employee compensation every year to maintain pay equity and that it was given a top ranking for pay equity in tech by Arjuna Capital's Gender Pay Scorecard.

The company has faced some internal criticism of its reported remote work policy, with employees reportedly leaving the company as a result of its decision to bring them back to the office in a hybrid model.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.