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This article was published on August 13, 2015

Apple’s latest diversity report shows barely perceptible change

Apple’s latest diversity report shows barely perceptible change
Lauren Hockenson
Story by

Lauren Hockenson


Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. She also has a folder full of dog GIFs and uses them liberally on Twitter at @lhockenson.

Today, Apple released its second EEO-1 diversity report, which shows the percentage of employees from different genders and ethnicities. But you’re going to have to look really closely to see the differences, which might make your heart hurt a little.

Gender diversity has moved just 1 percent, and the number of non-white employees also moved 1 percent.

In case you didn’t know, Apple has pledged to take diversity seriously. Tim Cook wrote in the report:

Diversity is critical to innovation and it is essential to Apple’s future. We aspire to do more than just make our company as diverse as the talent available to hire. We must address the broad underlying challenges, offer new opportunities, and create a future generation of employees as diverse as the world around us. We also aspire to make a difference beyond Apple.

And it’s true that, to its credit, Apple has tried to promote diversity from many angles. Cook lists investment in women-and-minority owned businesses, and supporting education through the Thurgood Marshall Fund. He also mentioned outfitting underprivileged students with technology through its ConnectED program. These are just slices of diversity-oriented programs that Apple has lent its name and time to — CODE2040 is another that comes to mind.

So Apple is talking the talk pretty well, and it is trying to walk the walk. According to Cook, Apple “hired over 11,000 women globally, which is 65 percent more than in the previous year. In the United States, we hired more than 2,200 Black employees — a 50 percent increase over last year — and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase.”

Cook says that Apple is doing more than ever before, hiring more than ever before, and working towards diversity, so what gives? The numbers certainly don’t show it.

Screenshot 2015-08-13 14.12.59

Global gender now sits at a 69/31 split, a percent difference between last years 70/30 ratio. Despite hiring more women than ever this year, female employees still count for three of every 10 employees overall. In tech roles, it’s worse: women count for 22 percent of employees in tech roles, a 2 percent jump from the straight-up 80/20 split in 2014. In leadership roles, women continue to have just 28 percent of positions — just more than 1 in 4.

Screenshot 2015-08-13 14.13.06

The U.S. ethnicity breakdown in 2015 shows that 54 percent of overall employees at Apple are white — down from 55 percent last year. The biggest group to see a bump was the Asian ethnic group, which saw an increase of 3 percent over last year. Hispanic and Black employees stayed fixed from last year, as did those who describe themselves as multiracial or “other.”

In tech roles, white people also maintain 53 percent of roles.  In leadership, white people account for 63 percent of all roles — nearly two out of every three leaders in Apple are white.

In his closing statement, Tim Cook said, “Some people will read this page and see our progress. Others will recognize how much farther we have to go. We see both.”

He’s not wrong, but if this is progress, I’m not sure what it says about changing the systematic issues regarding tech diversity in Silicon Valley. The road to addressing diversity is undoubtedly long and hard, and repeatedly looking at these numbers year after year will likely cause fatigue among minorities who want change to come sooner.

In the case of Apple doing more, I posit this: the biggest way that Apple can promote its progress of diversity is by doing it where it counts, onstage at events. At WWDC this year, Apple showed eight men and two women. The only people of color were The Weeknd and Drake, both musicians promoting Beats 1.

So Apple, if you’re serious about diversity, show off those underrepresented leaders of different genders and ethnicities. Prove that they’re worthy of displaying their hard work. I love Craig Federighi as much as the next person, but put him alongside others.

If the road to diversity is going to be done in baby steps, then Apple should take more of them.


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