APPLE IS TRYING to make itself a more diverse company. In an open letter accompanying the release of its latest diversity figures, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company’s hiring practices are changing. He writes that in the past year, Apple hired over 11,000 women globally, 65 percent more than in the previous year. And in the US, he says, Apple hired more than 2,200 black employees—a 50 percent increase over last year—and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase.
“In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year,” Cook says. In the first six months of this year, he said, nearly half of the people Apple has hired in the US are women, black, Hispanic, or Native American.
That may sound like a whole lot of progress. But a closer look at the actual composition of Apple’s workforce tells a more dismal story. In 2015, a vast majority (69 percent) of the company is still male, a figure that budged a mere 1 percent from one year ago. Apple’s US workforce is also mostly white (54 percent). And at the leadership level, Apple is 72 percent male and 63 percent white. According to its Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO-1) report filed for 2014, sixty of the eighty-three people on Apple’s leadership team were white men.
That said, the company did move the needle in some small ways. The company has more Asians (18 percent compared to 15 percent one year ago) and African Americans (8 percent versus 7 percent). The number of Hispanics at the company hasn’t changed, however; the group still represents only 11 percent of the company.
Progress, But a Long Way to Go
Apple first disclosed its diversity numbers one year ago, joining the wave of tech giants—including Google and Facebook—that started to share publicly the compositions of their workforces, spurred in part by calls from Rev. Jesse Jackson and Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou. A year later, many of those companies have revealed numbers that haven’t moved by much. At the same time, some companies—notably Pinterest and Intel—have gone so far as to commit to specific diversity goals to make themselves publicly accountable.
Apple, for its part, seems to be taking the different tack, instead highlighting the programs it’s undertaking to attract more women and diverse populations into the company. The company pointed to its work with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to aid students at historically black colleges; its ConnectED initiative, designed to bring technology to economically disadvantaged schools and communities; and its effort to host hundreds of students at its annual developer conference.
The same old cliché still applies: Apple has a long way to go. But at least Cook isn’t shying away from acknowledging that fact. “Some people will read this page and see our progress,” he writes in his letter. “Others will recognize how much farther we have to go. We see both.”
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