Apple quietly elevated the head of Inclusion and Diversity to the level vice president, up from a director’s position. And the company has a corporate heavy weight for the job in the form of its own Denise Young Smith, formerly Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources. 9to5Mac reported that her new title will be Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity, and that she will report directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Denise Young Smith

Apple VP of Inclusion and Diversity

“Our inclusion and diversity efforts are critically important to Apple’s future,” Apple said in a statement. “Denise’s years of experience, expertise and passion will help us make an even greater impact in this area.”

Human Resources

Human resources is vitally important for any company with more than a few employees. I tried to make this point in Tuesday’s Daily Observations with Jeff Gamet and Dave Hamilton, but I was unable to articulate it the way I wanted to during the show.

HR isn’t sexy, and no one talks about it outside of a company. To the outside world, HR managers don’t get the attention that marketing, engineering, design, or even logistics executives get, but they wield enormous power within their organizations. There is intense competition in Silicon Valley for senior HR managers, too.

All of which is to say that Denise Young Smith might not be well known to Apple watchers, but she’s been with the company for 20 years. With her experience at Apple, she can do anything she wants anywhere she wants.

Furthermore, in many companies, diversity managers report to the head of HR or are otherwise part of the HR infrastructure. Ms. Young Smith, however, will be reporting directly to Tim Cook, and that gives us tremendous insight into how seriously both Mr. Cook and Ms. Young Smith take the position of Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity.

Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion and diversity (ID) has been gaining prominence in corporate circles in recent years, and Ms. Young Smith won’t be the first ID executive reporting to a CEO. But she will be one of the highest profile ID execs working for one of the highest profile CEOs at the highest profile corporation.

All in all that makes this development important. Few will care out here in the world of Apple fans (and Apple haters, too). But Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the broader corporate ranks in the U.S. are paying close attention.

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I wish Apple was a company that simply looked for the best engineers and thinkers, regardless of the color of their skin.