August 14, 2014
Apple’s CEO Not Satisfied With Employee Diversity Figures
Eric Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Apple has become the latest of the large tech companies to release data on employee diversity. The figures reflect a lack of diversity already seen in previous reports by the likes of Google and Yahoo.
In his message introducing Apple’s Diversity Report, the company’s CEO Tim Cook said, “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.”
The report breaks down the data into two main categories. Race and Ethnicity data is provided for the US while the Gender category figures reflect the company’s global workforce. Let’s look at the numbers in detail.
Overall Race and Ethnicity data for the US reflect a similar demographic to other tech companies with a largely white (55%) or Asian (15%) workforce. The percentages for other groups are 11% Hispanic, 7% Black, 2% mixed, 1% Other with 9% Undeclared. By comparison, in the US national workforce as a whole Hispanics form 17% and Blacks 13%.
The US data is further split into Tech, Non-Tech, and Leadership employment sectors. In the Tech category 54% are whites, 23% Asian, 7% Hispanic, and 6% Black. The Non-Tech figures are 56% white, 14% Hispanic and Asian and Black employees are both at 9%. In the Leadership sector the Race and Ethnicity split is even more marked. White employees dominate the sector with 64%. Asians are at 21%, Hispanic 6% and Black only 3%.
Globally Apple employs around 98,000 people. Of these, the report shows that 70% are male and 30% female. In the Leadership category only 28% are women. In the Tech category women only form 20% of the workforce though they do fare better in the Non-Tech category where 35% are female.
Writing for Forbes, Amit Chowdhry points out that the subject of workplace diversity is a sensitive area with frequent resistance to the idea that workers are sometimes “hired based on their gender or skin color rather than their actual merits.”
The gender figures for Apple and the tech sector as a whole reflect a wider imbalance. Chowdhry quotes Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s claim that only “18% of computer science graduates are female.” While that imbalance continues, any hope of women getting anywhere near 50% of technology positions remains a distant one.
Meanwhile, non-profit researchers Catalyst drew attention to the gender gap in their 2013 Census of Fortune 500 companies. Key findings of the survey were that women only held 16.9% of F500 corporate board seats and 14.6% of Executive Officer positions in 2013. Only 3.2% of all board seats were held by women of color. One in ten companies had no women in the top positions. Catalyst also pointed out that the situation shows little sign of improvement as those percentages have not grown significantly since previous surveys.
Apple was under pressure to appoint more women to top jobs even before the release of the new report. As Bloomberg reported in January, the company was criticized by lobby groups among its shareholders, notably Trillium Asset Management LLC and the Sustainability Group, that there was only one female representative on its eight member board. In response, Apple added the following clause to its charter: “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.” This seemed to placate the objectors who later backed down on a threat to force a vote on the issue at February’s shareholder meeting.
CEO Cook admits there is still a lot to be done and his message includes the promise: “We know we can do more, and we will.” He stressed that Apple sees diversity as encompassing more than the race, ethnicity and gender issues and says Apple’s definition of diversity “includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities,” and goes on to say, “We believe in celebrating that diversity and investing in it.”
With Cook at the helm the company has seen a string of promotions that have increased diversity at the top and has been a powerful promoter of Gay Rights, as well as sponsoring the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Apple also “pledged $100 million to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative to bring cutting-edge technologies to economically disadvantaged schools” and has lobbied politicians to support the Employment Non-discrimination Act. These moves echo initiatives by competitors such as Google’s Made with Code and Facebook’s Girls Who Code programs which are both aimed at getting more women into computer science and technology.
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