Apple’s HR head talks diversity improvements, more transparency planned for upcoming report [Video]

Apple executives don’t often make appearances at tech industry events, but the company’s Global Human Resources Chief Denise Young Smith this week sat down for a discussion at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference.

During the interview, Smith talked mostly about diversity at Apple and noted the company would release its second report disclosing data on the subject later this year. Smith’s role expanded to head of human resources for the whole company back in February last year after previously leading HR for Apple’s retail operations, and since has been the face of many of Apple’s diversity related initiatives and announcements. Last August, Apple for the first time released diversity data while stepping up initiatives to include employee events celebrating and promoting diversity. It also announced $10K Inclusion and Diversity scholarships last year for minorities in tech.

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Smith noted that Apple has noticed “some movement” in hiring of women and minorities since last checking in. Expect to see an increase in new Apple employees that are women, now up to around 35% of new recruits, as well as an increase in new African-American and Hispanic hires. Smith said the next Apple diversity data report will include “more transparency,” but it’s unclear exactly how it will differ from last year’s.

CEO Tim Cook has also put a big focus on diversity at Apple in recent months. In an interview last month, Cook pointed out that the company has made an effort to integrate more female employees into its press events, something it delivered on at its WWDC event the next day. Still, at the time of its first diversity report in August, Cook said he was “not satisfied with the numbers” and that Apple plans to do more to improve them.

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  1. suchkunt - 8 years ago

    nauseating. the steady march toward mediocrity. IBM did this in the late 80s. Did not end well.

    • flaviosuave - 8 years ago

      Weird, the commenter right below you is saying that Apple is going to import diverse workers who can do the exact same job as current employees for lower wages. So which is it? Maybe you’re just a horrible combination of racist and sexist – not just white guys are capable of doing the work at Apple.

      • jamessmooth - 8 years ago

        I must have missed the part where he was racist and sexist…

      • suchkunt - 8 years ago

        ” So which is it? Maybe you’re just a horrible combination of racist and sexist – not just white guys are capable of doing the work at Apple.”

        1- You’re mentally ill. Your insecurities are destroying any semblance of rational thought. Next you’ll use the “it’s 2015, wowjustwow” non-argument.

        2- Introducing diversity quotas means by definition a lowering of the bar to fill said quotas. And for what? Status signaling to other mentally ill leftists who believe that a demographically inconsistent headcount is better than choosing the best man or woman for the job.

        Fairness sacrificed on the altar of “muh feels” and “muh diversity.”

        If software engineering is a (arbitrarily) 80% male field, dominated by whites and asians, logically a majority of your qualified candidates will come from that pool.

        But for you that simple fact is “RACIST AND SEXIST WOW JUST WOW I CANT EVEN” and discriminating against asian and caucasian males to achieve some arbitrary 50% representation of the 20% is somehow acceptable.

        Get help.

    • Ron Cardi (@ROYG_B) - 8 years ago

      Apparently diversity is synonymous with mediocrity.

      With the incremental changes in their employee demographics, I think it’s safe to assume Facebook and Apple aren’t running around grabbing blacks and mexicans from the streets and women from fertility clinics and their baking classes…. you know, since that’s where they’re all hiding…

  2. joe smith (@joe815smith) - 8 years ago

    Let’s be honest. This has nothing to do with diversity. Like Apple’s wage collusion scandal, its goal is to lower the wages of its employees. By increasing the pool of job applicants for a position by including unqualified individuals who are women or minorities, wages will fall. This is the same reason why Apple and other tech companies want more H1B visas. Most of those visas are awarded to Indian outsourcing firms who these companies then hire at a reduced salary to do the jobs of soon to be laid off employees.

  3. Kawaii Gardiner - 8 years ago

    A lot of the problems people talk about in terms of diversity cannot be fixed at the end point (employment) but need to be addressed at the starting point (education, health, social welfare etc) which are outside of the control for many organisations. If there aren’t sufficient number of African Americans entering into the STEM subjects because the schooling provided was substandard, healthcare wasn’t accessible resulting in long periods off from school thus missing many classes, that there isn’t sufficient welfare meaning that if a sibling is sick the older child has to take time off from school to take care of the child whilst the parent is at work, then really forcing diversity at the end isn’t a viable solution. Until the way in which health, education, social welfare etc. are addressed in the US then things will keep the way they are or get worse – the fact that the average America cannot see the folly that a poor area has to fund their own schooling resulting a poor area resulting in fewer resources meaning they remain poor long term really leaves me wondering whether people in the US are too myopically focused on their own ‘community’ in exclusion of all others – looking at only their own community instead of having a state wide or nationwide view of things.

  4. niji - 8 years ago

    but in actual fact, apple is still playing the game of using a “2-fer” (black, woman) which is not what I expect from apple. stop it. really want apple to increase women and minorities throughout the entire organisation.
    i was very disappointed in how this diversity spokesperson basically gave the excuse that it requires time and also blamed lack of diversity on growth.
    apple should be putting the bulk of its social issue concerned money into women’s tech (high tech) education as appropriate from nursery level through graduate level.
    do this or it might be that apple looks for a black, handicapped, gay, woman and attempt to get a 4-fer. come on apple. do it differently and do it right. lead the way. lead the discussion.

  5. hodar0 - 8 years ago

    When it comes to STEM, no matter where you go in the world – the story is pretty consistent. Whites and Asians tend to excel in these areas. It is NOT isolated to America. Whether the reason is cultural or genetic, the reason really doesn’t matter. World-wide, relatively few non-whites and non-asia people excel in STEM courses. For theses select few, they should have no greater, and no less access to a job than anyone else. That is equality – judging a person by his character, or by the capabilities; not the color of his skin.

    When you lower the bar, so that minorities “can compete” you are saying “you are inferior, you are either too stupid or too lazy to compete in any other format, so we will lower the bar for you”, and this is a race to the bottom, because now we negotiate how far down the bar can be lowered to accommodate the slowest performer – while simultaneously penalizing the white/Asian over-performer.

    If I run a company, I want the best PERSON for the job. I do not care what race, or what gender that individual is. At the end of the day, I want my company to be successful, and to do that, I need a group of people that can work together, that are capable individually and successfully as a team – whatever their makeup happens to be. I see no reason to artificially change their makeup to meet some politically motivated goal – because that has no bearing on profits or my long term survivability.


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.