Diversity in Tech: Apple's Diversity Report Boasts New Hires, Admits Unfinished Business
Right on the heels of Intel's mixed-result diversity report, last week Apple also released information on its workplace demographics. The second annual diversity transparency report from the most valuable company in the world yielded a similar mix of promise and progress, albeit slow.
The Good News
Apple CEO Tim Cook proudly announced that the company had increased the rates at which it hired underrepresented minorities in the past year. Indeed, many of the hiring figures reflected a concerted effort to begin expanding Apple's workforce beyond the insular white, male-dominated Silicon Valley norm.
Specifically, Apple increased hiring of women by 65 percent over the past year, with over 11,000 women joining the tech company globally since 2014's report. Cook also boasted hiring over 2,200 black employees, which represents a 50 percent increase in hiring rates over the year, along with 2,700 new Latino employees - a 66 percent increase.
"As you can see," wrote Cook in an open letter that accompanied the 2015 report, "we're working hard to expand our recruiting efforts so we continue hiring talented people from groups that are currently underrepresented in our industry."
He also emphasized that diversity hiring was a priority for Apple that's still ramping up from its initial stage, noting that in the first half of 2015, "nearly 50 percent of the people we've hired in the United States are women, Black, Hispanic, or Native American."
Apple prominently displayed its best news, the percentage of new hires in the U.S. (and globally, for women) from underrepresented backgrounds on its diversity page.
The Stubborn Bottom Line
But Apple, like many Silicon Valley companies, has a long way to go yet.
No wonder, since the company is starting from the mostly-white-guy baseline it made public last year, along with a torrent of Silicon Valley diversity reports issued after the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others pushed for more transparency.
For example, in 2014 Apple had a 70 percent male workforce globally. That bottom line figure has budged towards balance, but only by one frustrating percentage point. Similarly, the overall percentage of white employees, 55 percent in 2014, has dropped one percentage, while black and Asian employees have ticked up by one and three percent, respectively.
With a company as big as Apple - it employs nearly 100,000 full-time workers across the globe - it's easy to see why the overall picture is moving slowly.
But the core (pardon the pun) of the company is even slower to change.
Nearly 80 percent of technical jobs at the company are filled by men, and those jobs tend to be filled three-quarters of the time with either white or Asian employees. Leadership positions remain largely filled by white men as well.
And though the hiring of Latinos in the U.S. and elsewhere has accelerated at Apple, the baseline figure remains stuck at 11 percent, the same as in 2014.
It's a Start
That's disappointing. Cook was clearly aware that despite Apple's efforts, certain aspects of the company's diversity report would fail to make the grade. But he maintained that Apple was still at the beginning of a major shift towards inclusion.
"Some people will read this page and see our progress. Others will recognize how much farther we have to go," reflected Cook. "We see both."
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