Apple Diversity Report Offers Mixed Ethnic and Gender Bag

| Analysis

Apple released a corporate Diversity report on Tuesday, laying out the ethnic and gender breakdown of its work force and leadership ranks. That report shows that Apple's work force is more diverse than the population as a whole, with under-representation of whites, Hispanics, and blacks, and an over-representation of Asians. At the same time, males are massively over-represented as a whole, and in its leadership ranks, white males in particular rule the roost.

Apple Promotional Image from Its Diversity Report

Apple Promotional Image from Its Diversity Report

Apple CEO Tim Cook has openly committed to having a diverse work force, and his company has been using the tagline "Inclusion inspires innovation" as part of that drive. In a first, Mr. Cook participated with some 5,000 Apple employees in San Francisco's Pride parade, and in Apple's Diversity report, Mr. Cook wrote:

Apple is committed to transparency, which is why we are publishing statistics about the race and gender makeup of our company. Let me say up front: As CEO, 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. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.

Under his tenure as CEO, Apple doubled the number of women on its small board of directors (from one to two). Mr. Cook also hired Angela Ahrendts to head retail, Lisa Jackson to head Apple's environmental initiatives, and Denise Young-Smith to head its human resources department.

Despite those efforts, however, Apple's management ranks, which includes its retail store managers, are still dominated by white men. 64 percent of Apple's leadership are white and 72 percent are male. 21 percent are Asian, while only 6 percent are Hispanic and 3 percent black. Another 6 percent are undeclared.

This compares to 62.6 percent of the U.S. population being classified as white by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013. 17.1 percent are Hispanic, 13.2 percent are black, and 5.3 percent are Asian. Another 2.4 percent claimed two or more races, and 0.2 percent are Hawaiian.

49.1 percent of the U.S. are male and 50.1 percent are female (source).

Looking at the Santa Clara County's demographics—where most of Apple's corporate employees work—whites makes up 57.2 percent of the population, while Asians make up 34.1 percent. 26.8 percent are Hispanic, while 2.9 percent are black. People claiming two or more races comprise 4 percent of the population.

In the broader work force, Apple reported that 55 percent of its work force is white, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic, 7 percent black, and 2 percent claiming two or more races. 1 percent are "Other," while 9 percent are undeclared.

Apple broke those numbers down even further, by offering a look at non-tech and tech jobs. As shown in the two tables below, whites, blacks, and Hispanics are under-represented, while Asians are very over-represented. In tech, Apple's work force skews even further towards Asians, mostly at the expense of Hispanics and blacks. In both breakdowns, the number of people who chose not to declare their ethnicity was similar, at 9 and 8 percent respectively.

Apple Demographic Data
U.S. Race and Ethnicity in Non-Tech U.S. Race and Ethnicity in Tech

White

56%

White

54%

Hispanic

14%

 

Asian

23%

 

Asian

9%

 

Hispanic

7%

 

Black

9%

 

Black

6%

 

Two or More

3%

 

Two or More

2%

 

Undeclared

9%

 

Undeclared

8%

Apple did not break down its retail employees. My anecdotal observations from spending time on Apple's campus and visiting many of Apple's retail stores is that its retail operations improve the company's overall diversity numbers.

That said, Apple's retail employees constitute less than a third of its employees worldwide. In last year's Job Creation report, Apple reported 80,000 employees worldwide, with 26,000 of them being retail employees. In the newer Diversity report, Apple claimed a total of 98,000 employees.

Diversity in Silicon Valley has been a hot-button topic for some time, and the efforts of activists, including a renewed effort by Jesse Jackson, have raised its profile.

Google reported earlier this year that 70 percent of its work force were male, while 61 percent were white and 30 percent Asian. At the Don't Be Evil corporation,"two or more" was the third category, at 4 percent, while just 3 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were black.

Facebook reported that 69 percent of its work force were male, though that increased to 85 percent on the tech side of its business. 57 percent are white, 34 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black, 3 percent claimed two or more races. On the tech side, these numbers skew even further towards whites and Asians, while Facebook's leadership is 77 percent white and 74 percent male.

There are a number of issues that go into the diversity of any corporation's work force. From local demographics, to unintentional and intentional hiring bias, to the role of networking—especially at the executive level. Even cultural bias on education across both racial and gender lines plays a role.

Apple appears to be ahead of the tech curve in terms of ethnic diversity, at least when compared to Google and Facebook, but gender representation is a significant issue for all of these companies. Again, the issues at play are many and varied, and most are outside the control of any individual company.

But Tim Cook has demonstrated a commitment to this issue, just as he has with environmentally sustainable business practices. He has hired far more women for Apple's executive ranks than any Apple CEO before him, and each one has been a giant in her field.

Lastly, I wanted to note that all of these diversity reports are good for shareholders, employees, and society as a whole. Transparency leads to greater understanding and it opens the topic to conversation. With tech companies some of the most important in the world, hopefully future reports will show progress on this front.

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Comments

Micah Pogue

Bryan, when does a company put too much emphasis and effort into making sure there’s just the right amount of each type of people group within the ranks? Why not just let the numbers land where they will organically?
I get the feeling that these ‘politically correct’ companies like Apple (and I’m a huge Apple fan) tend to try and over-engineer these demographics for the sole purpose of maintaining minority-pleasing status.
Look, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If Apple has gotten this good over time without catering to every nit-picky social issue such as diversity, they must think they can get better?
That’s the problem - most people do not care about how many black, white, male, female, or homo’s Apple hires. Just make us unbelievable products! “Inclusion inspires innovation” - that’s simply common sense hijacked by minority agenda. Let’s move on people.

xmattingly

I respect Tim Cook for many things - and he has been an outstanding CEO in my opinion post-Jobs, but honestly? Ethnic diversity for the sake of ethnic diversity is a crock of shit, and an overgeneralized, oversimplified statement that “we have to do better” on his part. At face value, it seems to be a presumption that there is a sort of “boy’s club” hiring practice… which, considering that Apple has a long history of hiring many of the brightest minds on the planet, is completely ridiculous. Now that the edict is out there, there is certainly the danger of acquiring less-qualified candidates for the sake of political correctness.

Anyway, my opinion is that if a company wants to stay ahead of competition, they need to hire the best, most qualified candidates, not the most ethnically/sexually diverse candidates. (in line with what Micah said, “organic hires”). And CEO’s should check their activism at the door.

Nom

“That report shows that Apple’s work force is more diverse than the population as a whole”

What the heck does that even mean?  The opposite of diverse is homogenous.  What does it mean for Apple’s work force to be more “everybody not the same” than the general population?  Is there some sort of homogeneity rule in place in the general population that Apple explicitly violates?

“with under-representation of whites, Hispanics, and blacks, and an over-representation of Asians” - does this imply that Apple should hire more whites and fewer asians?  Are you seriously praising Tim Cook for suggesting that racial quotas that discriminate against 5% of the population are a good thing?

How does one fight racism by seeking to label people by race and using this as a metric for how to treat them?

akcarver

All of this is IRRELEVANT! What matters is how well does Apple do what it does with the people it hires. Race, gender, sexual identity, et al are not important. Hire the people who can do the job the best with NO attention to this fluff.

Lee Dronick

Have qualified women and minorities who applied at Apple not been hired when lesser qualified white males were? If so then that is a big problem.

wab95

Bryan et al:

I never cease to marvel at how, notably but not exclusively in the USA, discussions about diversity in work or education often invoke responses about potential baneful, intellectually dilutional, effects of admitting the lesser qualified. Additionally, uncritical assessment dismisses such diversification as merely cosmetic, but only because such an assessment has not been thought through. These are two distinct issues, harm and pointless pandering, that frequently arise in these discussions.

The first is readily addressable. Implicit in this concern of a dumbing down of the work or educational place is the assumption that it is currently inhabited by the best and the brightest; that recruitment is driven by a pure merit-based process that selects against inferior candidates. This system is often deemed to be entirely objective and without bias, even when it produces results that are not representative of the talent pool, let alone the background population.

The problem is, in the real world, biases exist. In everyone. No malice here, simply the case of ‘like seeking like’ or at least what is comfortable and familiar. When I first started working in Asia, and began hiring my research and clinical teams, the chief personnel officer (affectionately known by all as ‘CPO’ - and whom I originally thought was named ‘Seepio’ kept sending me an unbroken string of male candidates for my senior team, none of whom were impressive. I had begun working with a junior doctor whom I had hired for a hospital-based study, who impressed me with her intuitive grasp of what was important. When I informed the CPO that I wanted to hire her instead, you would have thought I was talking to a Ferengi. He all but said, ‘But she’s a feeee-male!’. To his credit, he listed several plausible reasons why she was the inferior prospect. I hired her over his objections (it was my money), and she now is one of the most prominent, widely respected - by merit - research staff at the facility. In fact, 80% of my senior team are ‘feee-male’, in this male dominated, patriarchal society. No one ever suggests that women, as a group, are lesser qualified, it’s merely assumed that males are simply ‘better workers’. Indeed, this bias informs not merely subconscious assumptions about ability and merit, but interactions. I have, more than once, had to intervene during personnel interviews when colleagues, interacting with a female or religious minority applicant, engaged in either hostile interrogation or fielded questions of a substantially different nature than those put to a male candidate fitting the stereotype of the ideal candidate. In nearly every case, that colleague denied any variation in their behaviour. To an outsider, the bias is self-evident. To the culturally acclimated, it’s all about selecting the best candidate.

Without effort, which typically involves a choice to be more representative, backed by training and an interdisciplinary and objective system, bias is endemic. It’s far too insidious, reaffirming, self-validating and comfortable to resist. Standards are never lowered when they are objective, transparent, and fairly applied to all. The best way to see their violation at the hand of bias is to visit another culture, or better still, talk to someone who is its victim.

The second issue, that this is uncritical assent to a minority agenda or misplaced political correctness that will, at best, result in a cosmetic change, or worse, subvert the selection of the best candidates, is a failure of careful observation of either history or current social trends. Can anyone imagine what American (i.e. USA) culture would be today without the collective input of its diverse elements, specifically Latin, African, Asian, American Indian in addition to European contributions; contributions required by historical circumstance without which America could never have become the culturally dominant force that it is today? History is clear on this point. As for the present; what did Apple just recently do? It acquired Beats, for a handsome fee. Bryan has devoted detailed analysis as to the reasons why, but the point is that Beats founders and leaders had their fingers on the pulse of an important social trend, a trend and a skill set that Apple deemed so valuable that it spent an unprecedented amount of money to import that talent en toto into the company. The talent that marked that trend was predominantly African American, one of the lesser representations amongst Apple’s senior leadership.

The point is that, without a representative workforce, a company or institution cannot maintain its relevance, let alone anticipate and stay ahead of trends amongst a diverse clientele without itself being representative of that clientele. Diversity of the workforce, not unlike that in a healthy investment portfolio, is essential to sustained relevance, growth and prosperity.

ctopher

Way to clear the room wab95. ha!

But I agree with you. Mr. Cook wants to force diversity because it’s good for Apple. I can read about what women, or asians, or black people need, want and desire, but I cannot be that person. Only that person truly understands and brings that understanding to the job. You might say that the best person for the job does not have the most knowledge, but their biases and world view. (See the news that Google et. al. no longer use GPA when considering employees.) If your department is all white men, a woman with less experience than another more qualified white male may indeed be the best candidate.

oops, I took too long to make my point too!

wab95

ctopher:

Your criticism is well-aimed. My apologies for the length, but not the content. My objective was not to clear the room, but make room for fresh perspective.

The only addition I would make to your comment is that diversity is not only good for Apple, my point too was that it is good for their customers, who also are a diverse lot.

Paul Goodwin

The amount of diversity isn’t detained by their hiring practices. They have a limited pool of talent to choose from. I’m sure they are hiring all the qualified people they can find. Very few (if any) engineering grads don’t get hired. Diversity is a good thing, but you can’t force feed a diverse but less than qualified pool of people into a business. The business would suffer as would those that aren’t qualified. They would just give a bad name to the race or gender as they would end up as the least effective performers. The diversity must start in the lower schools by steering promising kids with technical aptitudes into engineering schools.

As I stated in another post:

Gender ratio of engineers completing bachelors degree is
5:1 male:female

Percentages to complete bachelors engineering degree once enrolled
Caucasian 63.4%
African American 31.2%
Latino 52.3%
Asian 72.8%

African American representation in engineering
Undergrads 13%
Bachelors degree 5%
Engineering workforce 5%

Paul Goodwin

1st sentence “detained” was supposed to be “determined”

wab95

Paul:

You make a valid point, as do ctopher, xmattingly and Micah above.

Not only is the hiring of lesser qualified candidates in no one’s interests, including the candidates and the demographic they represent, but the cultivation of that talent pool must begin in the primary and secondary schools by insuring access to adequate educational resources, and equally importantly, genuine mentoring. This has been extensively addressed in the primary literature on education and its current deficits.

That said, going back to Bryan’s original piece, I believe that the spirit of Tim Cook’s comments are that it is insufficient to assume that, just because we (whether Apple or society writ large) desire to be more inclusive, and just because we have a wider distribution of talent, doesn’t mean that we succeed in achieving a more balanced and representative workforce. To achieve that, it must be an extension of core company values and be acted upon, otherwise corporate and societal cultural inertia will preserve the status quo. This has been demonstrated time and again, and too, covered extensively in academic literature.

A major challenge with change, including a transition to a more inclusive society and workplace, is trusting sufficiently in competitive market forces that they will continue to shape, mould and select for the best talent in order to drive the industry. The objective here is in insuring that everyone with the requisite talent are given comparable opportunity from a level playing field.

mrmwebmax

+

Regarding women in Silicon Valley and STEM in general, there has been endless hand-wringing lately about how to encourage more women to become programmers or engineers. Yet no one seems brave enough to ask: Is there something about programming and engineering that just doesn’t appeal to women as much as men?

More to the point, if that’s the case, one would expect that there are certain fields that appeal more to women than men, which there are. The Atlantic currently has an article about how women dominate the PR industry, but ironically, the author finds this to be evidence of sexism against women as well.

From both personal research and tremendously expensive personal experience, another field absolutely, totally dominated by women is veterinary medicine. I currently have seven cats, and in my life have had sixteen. I have dealt with cancer, liver failure, kidney failure, diabetes, a crashed potassium level that left one cat in an emergency vet hospital for a week (at one point in an oxygen tent), and more problems than I care to think about. I’ve dealt with veterinary oncologists, surgical specialists, internal medicine specialists, oral surgeons, and other highly skilled veterinary practitioners. At the very least, ninety percent were women. And we’re not talking about vets who just do spay and neuter surgery (although saying “just” spay and neuter surgery is ridiculous). We’re talking women on the very cutting edge of veterinary medicine.

What about veterinary medicine draws in so many women, whereas programming draws in so many men? I have a theory, completely untested and unsubstantiated, but based on my experience, women do better in sciences such as biology and chemistry than men. Men do better in more black-and-white areas such as computer programming and physics. I’m not saying that there aren’t exceptions, but I am merely suggesting that this perhaps explains the overabundance of women in veterinary science, the overabundance of men in programming and STEM, and maybe that’s just because of a gender preference for whatever reason. My two cents.

Paul Goodwin

Lots of good discussion. As for my discussion above, it only addressed engineering. I don’t know what the talent pool percentages are for non-engineering jobs that Apple fills, and how they grade for balance on gender and race. I can’t imagine however that their distribution would be all that out of whack with what’s available as qualified people. They are in a business that is under intense scrutiny with a buying public that would react negatively if they had a real problem. I can’t imagine them hiring anybody but the best regardless of what their gender and ethnicity is. The large conglomerate I worked at most of my career hammered away at sex discrimination and diversity for virtually all of the time I was there (32+ years). It was as diverse an engineering workforce as it could be. Only top people got hired, and over the last 10-15 years, more of them were women, African American and Latino. More diverse hiring occurred because more highly qualified people were available. When I got my degree in 1980, the graduating class size was 85 (left of the 450 that started freshman year). Two were women, and only a hand full were non-Caucasian. It’s quite a bit more balanced today but it took 30+ years to get what balance there is today in engineering graduates.

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