Apple has a deep-seated diversity problem.
In 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.
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.
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.