Apple’s VP of inclusion and diversity demonstrates Apples lack of inclusion

What is wrong with this picture? Self explanatory. What this picture doesn’t show you is Apple’s VP of Inclusion and Diversity, Denise Young Smith. She is a black female who has risen through the ranks to Leadership at Apple in a career spanning over 20 years at the company. Given her illustrious career to date it was disappointing to hear about her slipping at the recent One Young World Summit in Colombia when she said:

“Diversity is the human experience,” the Apple executive said. “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”
“There can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” Smith remarked.

What worries me is that this is the VP of Inclusion and Diversity sharing these comments. This was not Freudian Slip but rather how she actually feels perhaps due to her loyalty to the company who has employed her and promoted her for so many years.

Is there hope for Apple to become more diverse with Denise flying the flag?

I am not on a witch hunt as she did subsequently apologised, partially due to social pressure and brand damage limitation I am sure. However this points to the larger trend of a lack of diversity at the world’s leading Tech companies. Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook (the Big Four as Scott Galloway would say) represent so much of the worlds market value in Tech but so little social representation of diversity. At it’s core what Denise is failing to realise with her comment is that diversity and inclusion is about:

  1. Creating an environment where any employee can bring their authentic self to work and not compromise who they are or what they value.
  2. Employees voices should be heard and acted upon as a diversity of thought lowers risk and leads to more creative solutions.
  3. Employee populations should be diverse enough to represent the customers you serve globally.

Is anyone on The Executive Board at Apple held accountable for measuring whether they are moving the needle on diversity & inclusion? If it is Denise Young Smith, I would feel very worried on whether diversity will ever be more than a small cap line item buried in a annual report at Apple inc.

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