30 Years of Mac: White and Male

Apple Diversity and Gender

Apple has a deep-seated diversity problem.

Apple Diversity and GenderIn the 30 Years of Mac mini-site, a thoughtfully prepared homage to the history of the Macintosh and the people who use it to create, there were four women featured out of the twenty-eight profiles. One of the women featured, Noemi Trainor is an educator, a role women are “allowed” to be in. There were no Blacks or Hispanics represented.

There were four non-white males represented in 30 Years of Mac: a Korean, Japanese-American, Japanese, and Lebanese-American were profiled.

It’s easy to say that this has been gone over before. It’s well-known that Apple’s leadership is all white males (soon to include a women, Angela Ahrendts). Using archive.org, I can only find one woman in Apple’s leadership since 1997: Nancy R. Heinen. Nancy Heinen worked at Apple as Senior Vice President and General Counsel from September 1997 to May 2006, until she was sacrificed for backdating stock-options for Steve Jobs. No minorities.

Diversity with a Capital D
Colorlines.com

Board recruitment is not the problem, culture is.

In the next Apple shareholder meeting, Apple will vote to start to improve their board diversity. Their board charter will be updated to include the following statement:

The nominating committee is committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen.

It’s obvious by looking at their leadership team and board roster that diversity is simply not a part of the Apple culture. This culture will not change with an improved board recruiting policy. Changing a culture is a much tougher nut to crack. On Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.org website, there’s a suite of tools for increasing organizational diversity through non-biased hiring and management practices. Creating a Level Playing Field, a brilliant talk by Stanford Professor Shelley Correll, would be a good place to start.

It’s gotten bad.

I’m mad at Apple. It’s inexcusable that one of the largest companies in the world, a trendsetting company, does not care more about diversity. Apple should be setting the example for the tech world and being a diversity leader. I’m tired of seeing high-resolution images of Bob Mansfield and Jonny Ive.

I’m aghast that the 30 Years of Mac website features mainly white dudes, apparently the only innovative users of Macs. Surely, Apple could have found some African American innovative graphic designers that used the Mac over the past 30 years and represented more than four women. Apple chose not to.

Who was the editor of 30 Years of Mac? Who looked at the featured profiles and said “This represents our users”? Did someone at Apple say “I think we should feature more minorities and women?” or “Gee, that list of people is really, really white”? If not, that voice needs to be heard, and if someone did say that, that voice needs to be louder.

It’s time for Apple to step up their game and change their culture.

[EDIT] – Apple has promoted Denise Young Smith, an African-American woman, to run HR. Here’s a snippet from the Bloomberg article:

Smith is the latest woman to join Apple’s top ranks, which also include Katie Cotton, vice president of communications, and Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry Group Plc chief executive officer who will lead retail operations.

Gender and race is a touchy topic, and I’m trying to represent my point of view without being disrespectful. If I use any language the you find offensive, please let me know.

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the President of Katz Web Services and the developer of WordPress plugins with over 700,000 downloads. He lives in Southwest Colorado with his wife and two cats.

9 thoughts on “30 Years of Mac: White and Male”

  1. On January 24, 1984, the Macintosh, its first computer was launched, “with the promise to put the creative power of technology in everyone’s hands.”
    And still the most innovative after these 30 years. Go ahead, Happy 30th to the Mac!

  2. You might be right, or you might be making a fuss in the name of political correctness. After all, you are just postulating that there must be some non-white and/or non-male that is being purposefully ignored.

    So, to make things tangible, could you give some example of a Mac user that would be (even if arguably) more adequate/interesting than any of your “almost-thirty white males”?

    Or do you want to plug in women and “minorities”, just because?

    1. Apple would know better than I who to feature. The point is that by not representing women and minorities, they are not promoting diversity. Yes, I want to plug women and minorities “just because”: it shows they are important members of Apple’s history.

      I see that you’re from Poland, not the US, but Apple is an US company, so let me show how women and minorities are still not represented in positions of power: there are currently three African-American senators. In the history of the US, there have been TWENTY SIX minority sentaors [1]. How about women being represented? “To date, 44 women have served in the United States Senate, with 20 serving at this time” [2]

      The point is that minorities and women are coming from behind. They’re under-represented, and to not represent them properly in a feature such as 30 Years of Mac is an oversight. It’s been too long that these groups have been left out, especially in the tech world, where there are serious issues with discrimination in an industry dominated by white males.

      Watch the LeanIn.org video in the post. Then read these articles:

      http://ariannasimpson.com/post/74400025051/this-is-what-its-like-to-be-a-woman-at-a-bitcoin
      http://qz.com/103453/i-understood-gender-discrimination-after-i-added-mr-to-my-resume-and-landed-a-job/
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/20/opinion/life-as-a-female-journalist-hot-or-not.html

      Yes, Apple should have featured more women and minorities. It shows they have a large blind spot.

      References:
      1. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/minority_senators.htm
      2. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/women_senators.htm

      1. You can’t make a point about (real or not) problems in Apple’s selection of 30 Mac power users by pointing to problems elsewhere, be it in the USA’s government or in the job market in general. I guess that should be clear.

        Look, I am in general wanting to support your cause, but I just balk at political correctness, sorry. So I made a clear request that would make your point in an indisputable way… and yet you ignored it. Again you are postulating that they are discriminating, not providing any proof. You are unhappy with the selection and want them to change it, admittedly “just because”, with not even an example: isn’t that the very definition of political correctness?

        So again I ask: can you point to at least one example of a female/minority Mac power user that should (even if arguably!) substitute any of the ones selected by Apple?

        I am even ready to help you. Wasn’t Spike Lee at some moment courted by Apple? He certainly is notorious, so why is he absent in the 30-year list? That would be an interesting way to *begin* *your job*. Because note that it is not enough to say that he COULD be there; looks like everyone of the 30 selected power users collaborated with the ad/event, so who knows if Spike Lee was asked to do it and he refused?

        Absence of proof is not proof of absence, etc etc.

        1. You’re coming at this from the perspective of the white male dominated society: it is the burden of the woman and the minority to prove they are being discriminated against. However, there is discrimination. There is bias.

          The burden of proof required by those in power will never be met by those who are oppressed.

          1. Whatever burden of proof will never be met if there is not even an intent to provide it, like in your case.

            You can’t start by saying you are unhappy with the selection only to immediately turn around when asked and and say “Apple would know better than I who to feature”. And you can’t throw an accusation based purely on handwringing, without having at least a proof or a victim (some minority power user being ignored, for example). You are just another case of “WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?”: you sound more manipulative than rooted in any fact. Like when Greenpeace targeted Apple about recyclability just to get visibility, even though HP (for example) was in fact worse in practices and volume.

            I mentioned Spike Lee – and yet I am the white man defender, according to you. But you mentioned no one, only stomped your feet.

            Imagine you wrote to Apple and say “you discriminate”, they say “no we don’t”. Deadlock and end of the story.

            Now imagine you told them “You considered famous director Spike Lee someone important some years ago. Now you seemingly ignore him in your list of exceedingly white power users. Why?”. Now THAT could get an interesting response.

            But see? I am doing your job. You just stay there, keep stomping. Someone will fix the problem for you.

          2. The fact that they under-represented women and minorities is proof that they didn’t try hard enough. It was not my intention to suggest different people to feature; that’s beside the point.

          3. But that “underrepresantation” that you call fact is rather your *supposition*, not a fact – as far as I (and you) know. Or do you have any example to back up your supposition?

            That’s my whole point.

            Asking others to fight against your suppositions (/prejudices!) is probably the very attitude you are theoretically fighting against.

            And note, positive discrimination could be interesting, who knows. But that is simply different to what you are talking about (and rather a different discussion). That’d be a “feature request”, not the entitled “bug report” that you intended.

  3. I am a strong believer in hiring the best person for the job. Man or Woman. White, Black, Yellow, Purple, Green – it does not matter. Just go with the best person for the job.

    Can anyone complain about Apple’s results over the past decade? Their profit margin is huge. Their revenue and market share growth is almost unbelievable. They have created entirely brand new markets to sell products in.

    “top 10 executives at Apple Inc. are all white males.”

    Those top 10 executives who happen to be white males are doing a heck of a job in managing Apple. To say anything else, to say they should be replaced by others simply because of the color of their skin and gender is at minimum gross political correctness. At most it is racism.

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