In company-wide email, Tim Cook calls racial profiling incident at Aussie Apple Store ‘unacceptable’

Earlier this week, a video was posted to Facebook of three black teenagers from Sudan and Somalia being barred from entering the Apple Retail Store in Melbourne, Australia, because an employee thought “they might steal something.”

Apple yesterday apologized in a statement to the media.

Today, in a company-wide email, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the incident “unacceptable.”

The full text of the email, via BuzzFeed News:

Subject: Apple is open


I’m sure you are all aware of the unacceptable incident which took place at our store at the Highpoint shopping center in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday. Several young men, who are students at a nearby school, had been asked by a security guard to leave the store. In an attempt to address the situation, one of our store employees gave an answer which shocked many of us.

What people have seen and heard from watching the video on the web does not represent our values. It is not a message we would ever want to deliver to a customer or hear ourselves. Our employee immediately expressed his regret and apologized to the students.

None of us are happy with the way this was handled. But we can all be proud of Kate, one of the senior managers at the Highpoint store.

On Wednesday, she greeted the same group of students to express a heartfelt apology on behalf of our store and our company. She reassured these young men that they and their fellow classmates would always be welcome at our store. The school’s principal later told a reporter that she delivered her message “with good grace,” and one of the students said, “It feels like we have justice now.”

Her words that day echoed a message you’ve heard many times from me and from Angela. It’s a simple pledge we all make to our customers and to ourselves:

Apple is open.

Our stores and our hearts are open to people from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language or point of view. All across our company, being inclusive and embracing our differences makes our products better and our stores stronger.

The Apple Store Highpoint is staffed by people who share these values and illustrate our commitment to diversity. The team is made up of coworkers from Australia, as well as Egypt, Italy, India and five other nations. Collectively they speak 15 languages, including Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin.

While I firmly believe that this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores, we will use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement. These are concepts and practices they know well, but can always stand to reinforce.

Respect for our customers is the foundation of everything we do at Apple. It’s the reason we put so much care into the design of our products. It’s the reason we make our stores beautiful and inviting, and extend their reach to benefit the communities around them. It’s the reason we commit ourselves to enriching people’s lives.

Thank you all for your dedication to Apple, to our values, and to the customers we are so very fortunate to serve.


The video that provoked Cook’s email:

MacDailyNews Take: End of discussion?

Apple apologizes after allegations of racism by Australia schoolboys – November 12, 2015
Apple store accused of racial profiling after video shows staff ejecting black students – November 12, 2015


  1. Has it actually been proven that the kids were kicked out because they were black? There are MANY shops that disapprove of, and even don’t allow, school kids with back packs no matter what colour they are.

    1. So that treatment of students would have been OK if they were white?

      I think Tims’ message was clear “Nobody will be treated in this manner in an Apple store.” That other, lesser, stores would engage in behavior that would not be tolerated by Apple isn’t really too surprising.

      The motivation behind unacceptable treatment of customers, or potential customers, isn’t even relevant. It’s just unacceptable. Good on Apple for setting an example of how to run a company, again.

      1. Uh, no… A bit of misinterpretation seems to be going on there. I simply couldn’t help wondering what the kids’ colour had to do with anything, y’know? Cos racism seems to’ve been what everyone was carrying on about yesterday. What made the incident racist rather than simply bad?

        1. How did the mall cop decide these three students needed to be moved along? If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

          But it was wrong in any case.

          1. So are you saying it was nothing to do with their age or their backpacks, and that it was all to do with the colour of their skin?

            If so, how do you know? (This is kinda what I’ve been asking all along.)

          1. Yep, that’s definitely the conclusion that everyone’s been jumping to, and it’s quite possibly correct. But I haven’t seen any *evidence* of that; just knee-jerk reactions and hypocritical insults. There are other possible reasons, you know (especially if you happen to know that part of Melbourne), and I’m just wondering why it seems that the whole world is so certain that the incident was a result of racism rather than any of the other possible reasons. “Are you that dense?” is an insult, not an answer.

            BTW, I don’t think many commenters here would make good detectives or judges.

      2. @quiviran I am not sure entirely sure what you mean by “Good on Apple for setting an example of how to run a company, again.”

        It was Apple employees that did this. The fact the Tim Cook relied on his media team to bail him out should not be condoned or held up a an example.

        This is an out and out disgrace which should not have occurred in the first place.

        1. I agree that it should never have happened. But the message from the top is, and has been clear. Apple, the company, does not consider the mall cops behavior to be acceptable. And that’s a good thing.

          But Apple is not perfect. The still steal time from their retail employees for the “bag check dance”.

            1. Sorry, didn’t mean to impugn life in Australia. I guess the Ugly American can lurk in all of us to some degree.

              One of the first postings referred to the ejector as a security worker. Apple security in an Apple Store in a mall = mall cop. It’s a mentality, not an employment structure. Delusional attitudes about the relative value of people and your closeness to the top of the heap defines the “mall cop”. America is good at creating variations of the mall cop paradigm. Sorry I projected American social structure onto my world view. You are lucky if your country isn’t structured that way.

              That said, all the worse. For an Apple employee to take the “we don’t want your kind in our store” attitude is a failure on the part of both Apple training and the management of the store, presuming the store manager had training responsibility and hiring and firing authority over the “security worker”.

            2. Just say you haven’t a clue about the Australian culture, you made many assumptions based on your American experience and back your ass out of the conversation because in three posts you have proved you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    2. asked to leave packs at counter – routine

      kicked out – unacceptable, unless they were causing trouble, or refused to ditch their packs

      I’d love to know the details. Didn’t watch the video because it’s in some kind of primitive format I can’t play. (/s)

        1. Depends, what is Apple policy? I wonder if there is any policy where back packs, duffle bags or whatever are asked to be left at the counter? If there is a policy, is it corporate or at the discretion of each Apple store. Anyway, all the white people in Australia and around the world, do a simple test at your favorite Apple store. White people, gather in groups of two, three or four and each person carry a large backpack and see what happens? Not the most scientific of tests, but would be interesting to see the results of each store in each location and country, etc.

  2. Sorry editor this is not the end of the discussion. This is only the beginning. I do hope that Apple learns a lot from this and take on a staff training regime. It absolutely drowned out the launch day of the iPad Pro, which didn’t get a mention.
    It also coincided with the opening of the Microsoft store in Sydney, which had a crowd of around 2000.

    Not a great day for Apple in Australia.

    1. LOL! 🙂

      Gee, widdle woad warrior STILL hasn’t recovered from the trauma he suffered whilst here (probably because of being loud-mothed and obnoxious). Maybe mommy could kiss it better for you?

      1. I’ve never been to Australia, and so must rely on reports from those who have, to get a sense of the place. Road Warrior has reported, I’ve listened. What’s your report on the land and its peoples? Is it true that its second-place status as a prison colony in the old British Empire led to a national sense of shame and an overcompensating belligerence and xenophobia?

        1. Wow – you’re really going to make up your mind about Australia because of reports from ONE person, that one person coming across as being extremely bigoted about all Australians and the country they live in?! And you’re going to use that one report as an excuse to add your own insults?!

          The mind boggles…

          Perhaps if you did a google search for “best countries to live in” you’d find that Australia is one of the top in the lists, ahead of the United States.

          Oh, and in case you didn’t realise, all of the convicts who were brought out here are dead now.

          1. I’m not going to trust Google, given all I’ve heard about them and their disregard for privacy. They are an amoral business, not a human being, like Road Warrior. As I have done all my life, I’ll take my chances with a real man, not an internet fiction.

            1. I agree about google, but the sites their search results point to aren’t all created by them; they’re mostly just people’s opinions uploaded to a web server, same as Road Warrior’s opinions are (unless you know him personally?)

              So you may never find out what Australia and Australians are really like. (My opinion: people are people, no matter where they’re from.)

            2. I’m happy you responded, Des Gusting, as I value your individual opinion. Far more than I value averaged opinions or rankings. Please speak up more in these forums. In the end, individual voices are what count, not the weight of the bullying crowd.

            3. Thanks Glendalough. 🙂

              Usually by the time I read MDN there are already lots of comments, so I rarely bother. Seeya next time, whenever that is.

              Peace, Des

    2. A reply to the folks who posted a reply.

      Tricycle Warrior: Yes you are right I still haven’t recovered from the trauma inflicted by many of the citizen’s there while I was there and I now realize that enunciating and speaking with an accent translates to being loud and obnoxious. I appreciate the kissing suggestion Tricycle Warrior but there is not much hope will make it better, a tribute to the quality of trauma the locals can inflict on others.

      Glenalough, what a delight to see you again. It’s nice to see you around. I thank you for your sane rational comments.

      Des Gusting, thanks for you comments. There are things about people that are consistent no matter where they are (they all eat, drink, sleep) however there are cultural and other differences that are unique. It brings to mind noticing in one of the Asian countries that the locals there made a “X” with their arms when saying no. That’s something I found unique and different.

  3. Cook should find those kids, offer them jobs, internships, scholarships, computers, iPads, and iWhatEverElseTheHell Apple has. American companies need to export America’s greatest ideals around the world with the crap they sell.

    And with the beads, he should look them in the face and apologize. Hell, meet them at the store, and give them whatever they point to.

    This crap happens too often. Hell, yes, even once is too often and this ain’t the first time.

  4. It is the politically correct thing to say for Apple and everyone. But I dont hear Tim Cook say the same about gipsies. And they are prevented from going into many stores, including Apple. Why? Because they, gipsies, have a tendency to steal.
    So, if the few black teens in Australia have a tendency to steal, then I would prevent them to come into my store.

    I dont have to support someone behavior because of their race. And I am hispanic, and many times my compadres have been shown out of stores for stealing. So I know personally what I am talking about. Blacks today find fault on everybodys behavior but their own.

    Lets take the Missouri incident and turn it around a bit. Lets start a campaign against the NBA because they dont have enough white and hispanic players….would you all like that?
    Or like the Missouri students want, more black professors. Imagine if Harvard, Yale, Stanford, had to have an x number of black professors just becuase students wanted it? Really? Would you fly that jet or try to get on a moon shot if they were built by diversity claims?
    You would be in it alone baby!!!

  5. I see the pattern with Cook that wasn’t there when Jobs was alive. Support all your personal choices at the expense of the company.
    Cook can be the greatest homosexual alive, but Apple is not the homosexual. He can do his own work in his personal time. I can care less about his own personal habits as he probably don’t care about mine. But bringing Apple into the fight can be detrimental to the company.
    But heck, he already made his money, so he has nothing to lose , right?
    The same with this incident. Did he find out the facts before speaking up? Were the kids acting strange? If they were white, would anyone even care about this story? Of course no one would care.
    It is extremism that is killing society. Openness we already have.

  6. It is the hypersensitivity that is out-of-balance here.

    Everyone, EVERYONE, has been “discriminated against” for perceptions about them at one time in their lives or another, all races included.

    And, many young people have tried to “tweak” the establishment at one time or another by acting out just enough to cause suspicion, but not enough to get in to real trouble, just to get a rise out of people.

    Could this have been unwarranted for the Apple employees to do? Sure. Is it the worst thing that could happen to these three young men? Of course not. They’ll live and get over it.

    Yet it is blown up in to a world-wide incident as though it is indicative of all the “evils” of western society. This serves nothing but the radicals.

    Here is the real issue: Does this incident rise to the level where the CEO of the most valuable company on earth must get involved personally? Is this the priority for CEO-level concern at Apple?

    That is what seems dangerously out-of-balance here.

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