Apple’s board has urged shareholders to reject proposal to tie executive compensation to racial diversity quotas

“Apple shareholders will decide next week whether to force the tech giant to diversify its leadership — possibly by tying executives’ compensation to racial diversity goals — in the industry’s latest effort to grapple with a severe underrepresentation of blacks and Latinos in its ranks,” Tracy Jan reports for The Washington Post. “The long-shot shareholder proposal, aimed at moving people of color into Apple’s C-suite, comes amid accusations of racial bias at various tech firms from customers, researchers and federal investigators. ”

“There was Google’s image recognition software that initially identified photos of black people as gorillas in 2015,” Jan reports. “Then last year, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft confronted a barrage of complaints after studies found evidence of discrimination against black customers trying to book lodging and hail rides.”

“‘This is not a social issue. This is a business issue. They are leaving money on the table,’ said Tony Maldonado, an Apple shareholder and music and film executive. Maldonado is pushing the proposal along with Boston-based Zevin Asset Management, which markets itself as a socially responsible investment firm,” Jan reports. “Apple’s board has urged shareholders to reject the proposal during their annual meeting next Tuesday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, saying the company is already engaged in ongoing holistic efforts to diversify. The proposal, the board said, is ‘not necessary or appropriate’ because of the progress that’s been made…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in July 2014:

Diversity is good, but getting the absolute best should remain the goal. Forced diversity carries its own set of problems. Would the group be comprised of the best-qualifed people possible or would it be designed to hit pre-defined quotas? Would some employees, consciously or unconsciously, consider certain employees, or even themselves, to be tokens meant to fill a quota? That would be a suboptimal result for all involved.

The best and desired outcome is for this to work in Apple’s favor. Truly looking at qualified people from a larger pool would result in delivering different viewpoints and new ways of looking at things and tackling problems than a more homogenized workforce would be capable of delivering.

Regardless and of course, someday it sure would be nice for everyone to just be able to evaluate a person’s potential, not measuring and tabulating superficial, meaningless things like skin color and gender.

Apple’s “Inclusion and Diversity” page is here.

SEE ALSO:
Apple Inc. fights shareholders group demand for more diversity – February 15, 2017
Apple’s Board of Directors says a call for diversity is ‘unduly burdensome and not necessary’ – January 15, 2016
Apple leads Facebook, Intel, Cisco, Google on gender diversity among Bay Area companies – November 17, 2015
Apple’s latest diversity report shows progress – August 13, 2015
Tim Cook is ‘personally involved’ in improving diversity at Apple Inc. – July 14, 2015
Apple donates over $50 million to diversity efforts – March 10, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook met privately with Jesse Jackson regarding diversity – December 9, 2014
Apple adds Vice Presidents, more diversity to Executive Leadership Team – August 15, 2014
A message from Apple CEO Tim Cook on diversity – August 12, 2014
Jesse Jackson calls on Obama to scrutinize tech industry’s ‘lack of diversity’ – July 28, 2014
Tim Cook: Apple will release diversity data ‘at some point’ – July 9, 2014
Jesse Jackson targets tech’s lack of diversity; sends letter to Apple, Google, HP, others – March 19, 2014
Apple changes bylaws after facing criticism about lack of diversity on board – January 9, 2014

46 Comments

  1. “Diversity is good”
    Why? No one has explained why it’s good. If everyone at a company is white, what do the shareholders care? Given two people of the same skill level, wouldn’t you rather work with the person more like you? So, all other things being equal, working with someone who’s like me should Trump diversity.

      1. Diversity works best when it occurs naturally. It reinforces stereotypes when forced. If there is active discrimination, that is different..but this type of policy doesn’t help that. I may be idealistic, but the best environment is one where respect is earned.

      2. Jean–
        Obviously, you are right. Apple doesn’t give standardized tests to its applicants that allow identifying who is most qualified on some sort of objective basis. Hiring is based on largely subjective factors.

        Diversity in background may not be reflected in diversity of viewpoint, but it seems likely. Allowing managers to hire people they _think_ are more qualified just because they find them more personable, or comfortable, or “more like me” is a formula for departments where everybody looks and thinks just like the manager.

        Inevitably, such departments will develop products that look and work as if the manager had designed them single-handedly; the team is really superfluous. If the boss misses a bug, everybody is likely to miss it. If he has an idiosyncratic preference, so will the product. A more diverse workforce will catch more errors.

        If diversity is valuable to the company, it is not a distraction from hiring the most qualified candidate. A candidate’s diversity is itself a very significant qualifying factor. It is in the company’s interest to steer decisions between applicants who are otherwise equally qualified in the direction of diversity. Remember when Apple’s motto was “Think Different?”

        Besides that, Apple does not just sell to male white MIT and CalTech engineers–it is a consumer products company doing business with diverse customers throughout the U.S. and abroad. Without internal diversity, the company cannot anticipate the preferences or demands of customers whose backgrounds differ from the manager. Ideally, it should have a workforce that looks pretty much like its customer pool.

        As I said, you are obviously right. The weird thing is the obvious (if utterly unconscious) assumption by most of the posters on this thread that a higher proportion of male straight natural-born American citizens of Northwestern European descent are qualified than applicants from other backgrounds. There is no evidence of that, or that Apple would be a better company if it paid less attention to diversity issues.

        I am old enough to remember when there were no Jewish partners at any major Houston law firm. My entering class at an elite law school was 85% male, 96% non-Hispanic, and 100% white. Anyone will tell you that the deep-carpet law firms became a lot more effective when they became more diverse. That applies to Apple, too.

      3. But in todays politically correct world, groupthink is used to enforce “diversity”, which now means not equal opportunity for all (as is should) but equal outcome, which in itself is a form of discrimination. A nasty one.

    1. Take it from me in Canada. We have had diversity and affirmative action crammed down our throwts forever.

      All it is is reverse discrimination and it’s bullshit. There are many more ways to do this like simply having fair hiring policies. The best person should always win out.

      Look at us in Canada: affirmative action is written in our constitution:

      “Equality Rights

      Marginal note:Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

      15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

      Marginal note:Affirmative action programs

      (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (84)”

      When I wss 18 I applied to the RCMP. I passed everything, even though the scores for people like me “white Canadian” were at a higher standard than for females or visible minorities. After testing, I was told: “because of affirmative action, since you’re not a female or a visible minority, we’re not hiring people like you.”

      Look at this in lur constitution. This whole nonsense is predicated on the presumption that white poeple are privledged and everyone else is not, and that females and visible minorities are disadvantaged. This is absurd: no credible research that I know exists to support this.

      There are many poor, disadvantaged white people…

    2. Essentially, diversity is NOT good, no one has any reason to believe it’s good, so why shouldn’t I be able to hire a white person even if they ARE less qualified? In the end, having a team that works and performs well together is of GREATEST importance, and done any non-white person is going to obviously have a hard time fitting in, why waste my time?

      MDN is absolutely wrong with this “Diversity is good” crap.

  2. Should be about the best and brightest, not race. That’s not to say any minority isn’t the best and brightest, but all takers need to prove it, and that should be the deciding factors, if it isn’t already. IMHO.

      1. I’m not placating liberals, I’m actually identifying myself AS a liberal.

        And, on this occasion, I’m a liberal who agrees with mdn. Call me sentimental but, when that happens, i think that its a GOOD thing.

  3. Sounds like a proposal Tim Cook and his leftist lunatics would expect Trump to implement. How about just hiring transsexuals for the next decade to pay back all of Apples sins against people who don’t like what’s between their legs?

      1. The whole bathroom issue would be solved if the victorian nannies would be pushed aside and bathrooms were designed for all humans with truly private toilet stalls. Installing 95% identical equipment in separate rooms to placate puritans who think biological functions must be regulated by the state is the definition of stupid waste. All anyone needs is one properly designed bathroom for all.

  4. The broader issue is that what many refer to as “diversity” these days is actually nothing more than code words for “non-white” and/or “not male” which is the antithesis of the true meaning of diversity. In the end, a true meritocracy is be the best and fairest way to go.

  5. Cooke likes to mouth off, but apparently not walk the walk. Apple makes billions by selling expensive phones to a diverse population. He would rather import planeloads of H1B visa folks than train american disadvantaged workers. Doing the right thing would not make Apple any more mediocre than it already has become.

  6. Here we have two camps debating. One of them keeps repeating that all these diversity initiatives are wrong (counter-productive), and result in perpetuating the discrimination, in addition to preventing the best possible talent to get hired (and consequently, attracted).

    On the other side, we have those who keep pointing out the dismal numbers of various groups (ethnic, racial, gender) in some professions that carry historical legacy of hiring bias and demand institution of hiring quotas in order to repair that damage. And they are also correct in that there was, and continues to persist, a hiring bias.

    But neither side actually argues about the core of the problem and most effective solution: the hiring bias itself.

    Enforcement of diversity will NOT eliminate hiring bias; it simply artificially forces those who do the hiring to hire people who, in their (biased) opinion, aren’t the best for the job, but must be hired in order to fill a quota.

    The only optimal solution is what Apple seems to be doing: comprehensive and mandatory training for all the hiring managers in order to eliminate that subconscious bias that everyone inherently carries as a part of the culture in which they grew up. We all prefer people who look like us, until we get to know them better and lower our defenses. The only way to improve diversity is to eliminate subconscious discrimination that we carry when we choose people to work with.

    1. “subconscious bias”? Hogwash. It’s called experience. Your assertion is that bias is based on look. You ignore that bias is far more often based on what one experiences and identify that experience with.

      If kids grow up watching asians/hispanics/blacks/white-supremacists deal drugs, or shoot each other, or steal, or bully other, they will eventually identify those people with those actions. No different than a dog who learns that small people (aka small kids) tend to pull on tail and ears. It’s association of action with people.

      We absolutely agree that the best person should get the job. Of course, the best qualified candidate should also be interviewed. But, today, a candidate has to check government mandated identification boxes which in the case of many Americans discriminates against them. Self identify your race, identify your gender, identify if you’re a veteran, identify if your handicapped. Each meets quotas for companies doing business with the government and many provide incentives for the hiring company.

      You’re the best qualified candidate? Sorry, we need to hire an asian female veteran. We’ll look elsewhere.

      1. You better believe that the subconscious bias is there and is powerful. You may call it experience, or whatever else you wish, but it is a bias.

        As I mentioned (on the next page), when auditions were open, orchestras hired mostly white men (later on, some white women, too). When they put up the screen between the panel and the musicians and started hiding them from the hiring panel, they ended up hiring many Asians, Hispanics, blacks…

        In the end, I think we both agree; the ultimate goal is best person for the job. My point is that the best way to get there is not to enforce some quotas, but instead to train people to eliminate hiring bias.

      2. Subconscious bias is not hogwash. It is a firmly entrenched reality. Bias is driven not only by age, sex, race, etc., but also by educational background, political philosophy, disability, tone and tenor of voice, cultural environment and personal history. It’s built into our DNA. In many cases it has served us well. But in a creative environment new ideas and thinking are essential to staying one step ahead of competitors.

        Diversity of thought is a key differentiator in the decision making process that will help a company avoid making what should be obvious mistakes that are the hallmark of groupthink.

    2. Pre: Sure, there’s hiring bias…there’s bias in nearly everything a human does. I have to ask, what dumb-axe business owner would dismiss an excellent hire, for someone less-so that “fit” racial bias (quota)? Answer: a dumb-axe business owner, who will eventually go the way of all dumb-axes. Also, I wonder if you’d be ok with the bias that regularly denies Asian college applicants that can wipe the dumb-axes of scores of those that a university accepts instead? Should we change up the mix of those that populate the boards of the NBA? I assume your bias would say “no” but don’t you think it’s glaringly uneven. Also, your very last statement is complete folly. A racial quota is instated and you propose that “subconscious discrimination” will be lessened. When people of skill, talent, intelligence needed for a task/job, get passed over for some non-performance characteristic in another, race-awareness in the situation becomes more apparent, and often disruptive.

      1. It seems to me that you hadn’t read my last statement correctly.

        Any artificial and arbitrary quotas designed to address diversity issues can only exacerbate such problems, and in the best case, result in less than optimal hire, which affects competitiveness of the business.

        On the question of universities and their admission policies, academic achievement isn’t necessarily the only criteria for entry. Many universities believe ethnic, cultural and racial diversity is strongly beneficial for academic development through exposure of very diverse points of view and cultural norms. The his may be one of the reasons for their favorable treatment of certain applicants over others.

  7. Probably the clearest link between the hiring bias and diversity can be seen in professional orchestras around the world. In recent decades, many had introduced auditions behind a screen. Candidates are called by number, they don’t talk, just play what they are asked, the hiring panel never knows who is behind the curtain. Result? Significantly higher percentage of non-white, non-male musicians get to play in New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw… There is perhaps just one single major orchestra in the world that is still doing their hiring the old way: picking them from the State Opera Orchestra with acclamation. This is Vienna Philharmonic. And the orchestra of 110 has just about 10 women (even the harp player is man! I can’t imagine where they found him — literally all harp students around the world are girls!!). The rest are white men. In almost every way, this ensemble is an aberration (and it doesn’t help for the case of diversity, since it is arguably still the greatest orchestra in the world).

    Back to the point: every single major orchestra around the world that introduced auditions behind screen has automatically significantly diversified its ensemble, and in practically all of those situations, the musical ability of the ensemble as a whole got better.

    Bottom line: train people to recognise and suppress hiring bias and you’ll have a diverse workforce without artificial quotas.

    1. I remember doing that exact type of evaluation in Intermediate school orchestra. The seat ‘challengers’ would go behind a screen and each play the same piece. The rest of the orchestra and the teacher as the final arbiter would select who played better and either ‘won’ the seat or defended it. 😀

    1. Agreed. You have to be qualified for the job. But I would hope that ‘qualified’ for a position doesn’t end with tech/management skills and balances that by also considering the breadth of experience and different cultural insights a potential candidate can bring to the company/group. An Idea to have diversity ‘now’ would be to have an in-house ’employee exchange’ program which would ‘exchange’ a portion of current employees from one country’s offices to another for up to 1yr stints and do that for all their global offices.

    2. Some years back, one of the most prestigious private high schools in Houston had never admitted a black student. When asked why not, they insisted that they would be glad to admit a black student if he were the most qualified applicant. After nearly thirty years of never admitting an African-American, it became clear that one of the qualifications for admission was being white.

      The rich white admissions committee members couldn’t imagine that anybody different from themselves could be qualified. They rejected plenty of applicants who excelled when they were admitted to equally selective schools
      that did not employ affirmative action for white people.

      Rejecting those applicants didn’t hurt them; they did fine elsewhere. It did hurt, and hurt badly, all of the successful applicants to the school who were denied any experience of people unlike themselves. After graduation, those students were utterly unprepared for a world where most people weren’t like them.

      I’m glad Apple isn’t making the same mistake.

      1. …those students were utterly unprepared for a world where most people weren’t like them.

        That’s an incredible gaping hole in the lives of a lot of US citizens. The insularity of my country can be beyond comprehension. Witness the political atmosphere right now.

        I consistently tell students: After high school, get real world experience ASAP. After college, spend time living in another country, off the North American continent.

        I consistently find that:

        A) Students who’ve lived in the real world (versus being only the product of the industrial education process) are remarkably more motivated to learn. They know exactly what education is for.

        B) Those people who have lived with extra-cultural experience are FAR smarter and more aware of the real world than those who’ve been stuck in one place for most of their lives. Insular minds do insular things, and that’s incredibly bad in this day and age of the Internet interactive world. It’s equivalent to being a paraplegic. Get out there and get some legs!

        1. I work in a school system, high school, to be exact and having spent about an equal amount of time in private business and public education, I STRONGLY believe that a prerequisite for college should be 2 years of full time employment, virtually anywhere including fast food if necessary. Anything that has a degree of diffuculty would be good.

          The benefits would be tremendously positive, and would make our colleges and the students far better than they are now.

    3. And if they are both equally qualified, HIRE THE WHITE ONE! You can’t have racism messing up the coherence of your teams if EVERYONE is white. You really don’t know who on your team is racist, so inoculate yourself against that.
      Plus, who wants to be the person to tell a white person “Well, you guys are even in every way, but we chose the black one.”

      And even if the non-white candidate is actually better, the white candidate will always fit in better with a white team.

        1. I’d say scan the votes on that comment. Of all the people reading the thread, only 4 ACTUALLY disagreed. ALL the rest either agreed or felt there wasn’t anything odious enough to warrant 1 star. 🙂 Diversity primarily means you have to watch what you say, how you say it and the audience you say it around. The last election showed that people are tired of being arbitrarily wrong at random. Yesterday, I could say “Attaboy” and today I get walked to HR?

          You really can’t realistically have it both ways. If you have set a bar, and, out of 233 applicants, 15 candidates are over the bar and 1 is black, “Diversity is good” says you take the black applicant. I don’t think anyone here would agree to that.

          1. Diversity primarily means you have to watch what you say, how you say it and the audience you say it around

            Yes, IF one is used to what’s now called ‘white privilege’ behavior. (If someone is used to bigoted behavior, then to hell with them, sorry). It’s indeed difficult to tip toe around what someone else considers ‘white privilege’ when that’s the whole of their life’s experience.

            My goal is that people are people and we all respect one another and there’s no mockery of anyone. There’s interest in everyone.

            I draw the line of course at destructive people, whom I personally seek in turn to remove from any and all situations. Throw them all into the same playpen and fight among themselves. Keep them OUT of what should be positive interpersonal productivity.

            15 candidates are over the bar and 1 is black, “Diversity is good” says you take the black applicant. I don’t think anyone here would agree to that.

            Seeing as I didn’t remotely say that, I have no response.

            But I will say my usual platitude that:

            There’s no such thing as a viable monoculture. Diversity rules. It’s how any natural system thrives.

            You talk about 16 candidates. I see no color. I see qualifications. If the black person hasn’t had the ability to become as qualified as the other 15, then why? There is NO reason that should be the case. That’s one of the core problems right now. Solve it.

            You, from what you’ve written, go for a white person from among the 16. I see NO reason to do that. That’s where my head is at. I don’t think you comprehend my point of view. Consider my COLOR BLIND. I want people who contribute to the whole of a project, team or committee. If they don’t, I don’t want them.

            You apparently think adding someone of a different color, faith, culture, country, ethnicity is a barrier to working within an organization. I have to question WHY you are qualification blind. All of the above characteristics may have nothing-at-all to do with a person’s contribution to an organization. Even better, maybe you’ll miss the fact that one of those characteristics DOES contribute to an organization. Don’t you want someone with excellent familiarity with the Middle Eastern market if you’re going to be working with or selling to Middle Eastern people? Kind of simple, once the bigotry crap is thrown out of the picture.

  8. The extent to which this is taken can be summarized by the idea that Google “deliberately” released software that identified black people as gorillas. I seriously doubt that this was intended by anyone, yet it is implied. Does that mean that if you had black people working in top tier positions at Google, then someone from that pool would have suggested that blacks and gorillas may look the same to the scanner, and therefore, they should have used further due diligence in refining their product? That’s absolutely absurd, yet that is the logical conclusion of this idiocy. As in everything else, it’s your ability that should determine your value to a company, and diversity is one factor among many when hiring. It is not a major factor, unless you want to diminish your talent pool.

    1. I disagree. Wiith how teams are expected to be highly performing by working together as a close knit unit, that ONLY happens when the team is all white. That leads to coherence and agreement far quicker and what they can get done in a unit of time increases greatly.

      Given an option between a well interviewed non-white applicant and an ALMOST as good white applicant, I think I can say we’d all feel better hiring the white applicant. And, seriously, even if the white candidate isn’t the BEST, you can help them BECOME the best by hiring them and providing them with the opportunity.

      1. Racist one: show me a championship winning sports team in the last 25 years that was all one race. Your theory does not hold water. Genetic diversity brings many benefits that you refuse to see.

        If Apple wants to sell its products around the globe, it needs to hire people with the cultural backgrounds necessary to relate to its future customers. Think about it.

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