#AppleToo: Digest #1
When I set out to collect the stories from my current and former colleagues, I had one goal in mind. Help all of these unheard voices find the right place to seek recourse for what happened to them. The most important thing I’ve done in my life, short of raising a very cool 14 year old daughter, is funneling nearly 300 former and current Blizzard employees who had seen or experienced harassment and discrimination to external authorities. I sought guidance, got feedback, and myself and a bunch of very helpful colleagues and industry friends launched appletoo.us, a space for former and current Apple workers to share their experiences with us.
What surprised me, though, was how many people wanted not only the resources and guidance for filing a report, but simply wanted to be heard. Many folks shared their stories in private, asking not to be shared elsewhere, other than to the external authorities of their choosing. The majority, though, wanted the validation and catharsis that I’ve felt in sharing my own stories, and consented to their stories being shared by myself and the rest of #AppleToo.
Thank you so much for your trust.
This will be the first set of stories to be shared. I have selected the stories based on the common threads to prove a systemic issue that needs to be addressed. I will share 5 at a time, as the emotional toll in reading these is heavy.
Just one story is too many, but we’ve passed that. Not every story has agreed to being shared beyond this platform. Please check for both social media and press opt-out notes. I appreciate your respecting the wishes of my colleagues.
Who is the People team for?
For many workers, they feel they aren’t the right “people”
The following stories all come from employees who raised concerns with their management and with Apple’s HR, the People team. None of these concerns were acted on or addressed in this process, and in many cases, the employee had to continue workin in a hostile work environment.
Black @ UK Retail
I’ve been working with Apple for about 6 years and thought this was the best job, challenging me every day to try harder and experience new things.
Then I interviewed for a role and I started to see the cracks. After an interview for a lead role, I was told by a store leader through another manager that I wasn’t as ‘loud or energetic as I usually am and was too formal” as the key reason why I didn’t get the job — that was code for I wasn’t that black loud energetic person they were expecting. Everything else was perfect, my results, my performance, my aspirations, my answers. I just wasn’t black enough for them, I guess and they couldn’t handle a serious black person in an interview, trying to take the interview process seriously.
After this I started seeing more and more cracks — I was in the black at Apple team before this and we were really struggling with identity and having leadership not just take our concerns about bias (racism and micro aggressions) seriously but actually action them. A team member had a total break down, others were struggling to come to terms with what their colleagues were saying happened to them or what they’ve experienced. Then all of a sudden a new black at Apple team was formed with two WHITE males and one black guy who works weekends — no information, no process, acknowledgment of the previous team — nothing. This is Apple retail in the UK. A complete white wash, and a complete smoke and mirrors process.
We’ve told our market leaders, we’ve told our store leaders, we’ve begged our managers to listen.
There was a WebEx early 2021 following the George Floyd shooting for UK employees — it was a huge showing of black people — we cried, we exposed what’s going on in our lives but importantly we called out the lack of black leadership, the micro aggressions, bias interview processes blocking us out and the struggle black females have being taken seriously. We called out leaders and managers for failing to raise concerns in store to market level and geo level and in fact Wendy and Diedre were both in the call and struggled to contain it. After, we heard nothing further — no follow up meetings, they didn’t release the recording of the call, they didn’t even ask for people to come forward to share their stories in a safe place or way. We’re literally the scum of the company — and the lowest paid. It’s just not right.
Targeted harassment ignored by management
One person on my team makes it a point to leave me out and feel isolated and alone at work.
- He doesn’t include me in meetings and instead other people suggest to invite me or they invite me directly to join meetings.
- He doesn’t give me access to documents, apps or files so I am left out of the loop which makes my job that much harder. I find out updates later or try to get more information from other people on my team.
- He didn’t invite me to several lunches or celebrations with the team before COVID. I found out through other people on the team about these events.
- He doesn’t acknowledge any of my accomplishments and instead praises everyone else on my team during meetings.
He is white and I am a woman and minority. I talked to my manager about this and they didn’t do anything about it. His manager is also aware of his behavior towards me and they also didn’t do anything to fix the situation. It’s been several years of his behavior towards me and I love the work I do, but not working with this individual. I wish for change but how when no one does anything about it.
Four years of witnessing discrimination and harassment
Content warning: this story contains disclosure of sexual harassment and assault
I worked in one of the retail store for almost four years, and I witnessed first-hand racism, sexism, (whether it be micro aggressions or more) and the enabling of predators.
There was an employee that worked for the store for several years, and was openly racist, and leadership did absolutely nothing about it until we literally would not stop bugging them about it. Finally something was done, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was not even something to do with his racism and sexism (which I feel is GROUNDS for termination), and instead something else. He would make our female co-workers feel so disrespected in the daily.
There was another employee, who was actually someone in an elevated position, who was constantly predatory. Constantly sexually harassing our team members, and nothing was done about it until it became impossible to ignore.
There were several instances where leadership would not let certain employees of color interview for positions that they were very deserving of. I witnessed an employee of color actually get in trouble for “spending too much time with customers”, meanwhile white employees would not get that kind of treatment.
Another employee sexually harassed/assaulted another employee in FRONT of customers, and nothing was done about it. He may have been written up, but other employees have been terminated for far less. He was quite literally predatory out in the open, and leadership did nothing!
Abuse of power is not consent
Content warning: this story contains disclosure of child abuse, sexual harassment, and addiction
Do not share this story on social media, per the author’s request.
When I was first starting out at Apple, as a hourly support person, I was singled out by a manager in my org, with the premise of talking about my career development I met him for dinner and drinks.
He had wanted us to meet at his hotel but I declined. I realized once I was there that he set this up as a date. At the end of the evening, he leaned in to kiss me and I refused.
After, at work, he ignored me for a few months. He then heard I had gotten a promotion as a manager and he was elated. He asked me what I wanted as starting pay. I threw out a generous number. To my surprise, my offer came back with that amount. I was assigned a team and new direct manager.
He then reached out and let me know he had secured a rotational position for himself, and he had requested I be moved under him in his new team. I can’t explain the pressure as a newly promoted manager I felt when this happened. He then started sexting me when I would stay at work late. I complied.
As a child abuse survivor it’s a sad issue I deal with, being overly compliant. I felt my career success was tied into complying with him. He would drop hints how connected he was and his family that worked there. As if nothing could touch him. He let me know he got away with harassing a gay man because he had a “friend” in HR.
One of those nights he had me sexting him he requested pictures in lingerie. I complied. In the mean time my depression and anxiety hit a low point. I was in a separation with my husband who was in the throes of addiction and my two year old son had just been diagnosed as ASD as all this was occurring. The manager then asked me to drive to his hometown and work with him at a coffee shop. I again complied.
When his wife found out he cut off the personal relationship with me and started ignoring me at work. As my direct rotational manager this was very harmful to me. I worked through it for several months. But then my husband and I reconciled and I became pregnant. I knew for the health of my baby I couldn’t keep working in this toxic dynamic. A trusted female mentor had an opening on her team and she was willingly to have me fill the spot.
I let him know I was requesting to move to her team because I couldn’t work with him due to the inappropriate behaviors that happened. He tried to move me, but his direct, also rotational, manager wanted to know why. He gave her his version. She talked to me about it and as a sobbing mess I explained and as that same child abused so long ago I took the blame. She then eluded to me that as women we have to do these sort of things to get ahead as she had done so. I was shocked she was siding with him. She then said she had to loop in HR, but I never was contacted by them. Instead, she had me go to a meeting with her and her rotational direct manager.
In that meeting I had to again explain the events and they let me know they are aware of the pictures I sent him. Which communicated to me I better stay quiet or that would be used against me. I felt so ashamed. This all occurred right before the #MeToo movement started. I was moved teams. But he and those two female managers were all promoted several times over since. I have not since. And I recently finally secured an interview for a promotion and the same female manager who told me how she got ahead was on the hiring team. So at the start of my interview I was asked to wait as they reached out to someone. They never said who.
After 15 minutes they return and let me know I’m no longer on the list and they would not complete the interview I had prepped and showed up for. And for anyone who has been in Apple interviews will know the amount of time and stress it takes to prep for one. I believe it was due to that same female manager from so long ago that this happened. In my entire professional career I have never seen this done in an interview, especially at Apple.
We have some very bad actors taking advantage to prey on vulnerable people. We need change. We need it now.
Consistent Lack of Support
Content warning: this story contains disclosure of assault
Do not re-publish this story, per the author’s request.
I thought I was going to be a “lifer” — I drank the apple juice and bled the credo the first few years working at Apple. That all came to a halting stop when I transferred to a new store out of my home state where it was made clear that I didn’t belong. The “southern hospitality” garbage you’re fed through movies was all just a façade and I was alienated and targeted by customer, employees, and “leaders”.
I already felt unsafe in the south. People carrying guns, men openly treating women as if we were so far beneath them I would be asked “can I work with a man instead?” Coming to work was brutal. Being at work was soul sucking. The expectations set on us were unfathomable and the customers were/are demanding, privileged, and rude.
I was working on point (check in) when a man approached me and said something confusing (I won’t disclaim what he said here) to which I replied stating that I was confused and didn’t understand what he needed from me to help. He proceeded to call me a “dumb bitch” and stormed out of the store.
The very next day I was yet again zoned on check in and that very same man came in saying the exact same confusing nonsense. When I told him I still didn’t understand what he needed he got so incredibly angry at me, swore at me, and when I decided to stand up for myself and tell him I will not allow him to speak to me that way… he assaulted me.
I desperately radioed for help and nobody came except for one of my coworkers who was 100 pounds soaking wet who ran me out of the store and hid me in a dressing room next door. I was traumatized. I was escorted to my car and called out for ten days straight.
I thought maybe Apple would protect me and give me paid time off or offer any sort of support. Funny. I was told I could take unpaid time off which I couldn’t afford living in a new city. So I came back. My first day back I clock in check my zoning and, but OF COURSE I’m zoned on check in to start my day.
Perfectly on brand to be expected to rub dirt in it when customers treat us like shit day in and day out and we are expected to take it because why? Why because we’re Apple of course.
Fast forward three years later. I felt so unsafe, unwanted, isolated, targeted and mistreated at the store in the south that I uprooted my whole life again and moved back home. Back to the store that I knew and loved. But I was wrong. In a town hall meeting with our market leader I brought up the topic of safety for the employees in stores where customers were getting increasingly more unpredictable and violent and I share my story of my assault.
I thought she knew. She was the same market leader for my store and the store I worked in the south. Of course she knew…right? Wrong. After my assault my store manager NEVER reported it. I suffered deeply mentally and emotionally and he didn’t even care enough to report what had happened to me at HIS store to offer me even the slightest bit of compassion and help.
The market leader was shocked and appalled, but don’t let her fool you. She is a clown, too.
When asked at a town hall meeting if we would see any pay adjustments due to the cost of living in (insert city in the south) she said something along the lines of: “Well you all chose to live in a city that’s expensive and if that means you can’t go out every night and you have to eat ramen every day to get by then you need to do that” — I immediately stood up and walked out and many people followed me.
People in that room had 2,3,4 jobs and side hustles to afford food on the table and she had the audacity to tell us we CHOSE this? We work for a trillion dollar company and they can’t afford to pay us a living wage?! We had 18 people call off from work the next day.