Apple Diversity Report Offers Mixed Ethnic and Gender Bag

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-TechU.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.