Apple diversity chief Denise Young Smith apologizes to staff for statements made at summit

“Apple VP of Inclusion and Diversity Denise Young Smith on Friday issued an internal memo to clarify and apologize for comments made during a business summit last week, reiterating that Apple is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace,” AppleInsider reports. “”

“At the One Young World Summit in Bogota, Colombia, last week, Smith joined Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson and KPMG International’s Global Head of Corporate Citizenship Lord Michael Hastings on stage in a panel discussion covering racial injustice,” AppleInsider reports.

Denise Young Smith, Apple's new Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity
Denise Young Smith, Apple’s new Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity
“‘Diversity is the human experience,’ Smith 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.'”

“As noted by TechCrunch, which procured a copy of Smith’s letter, the statement appeared to suggest diversity of thought is a suitable stand in for proactive hiring practices adopted by a variety of tech firms, including Apple, to foster racial and gender diversity,” AppleInsider reports. “‘I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense,’ she said in a letter to employees. ‘My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The irony is draped all over this one.

Diversity is certainly 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.MacDailyNews, August 3, 2016

Smith’s full letter, verbatim:

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard.

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion.

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry.

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone.

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other.

Best,

Denise

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s first ever VP of diversity and inclusion says she focuses on everyone, not just minorities – October 11, 2017
James Damore: Why I was fired by Google – August 12, 2017
Street artist mocks Google in ads posted outside company offices following Damore firing – August 12, 2017
Here’s why the tech industry doesn’t need more female software engineers – August 9, 2017
Apple’s new Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity will report directly to CEO Tim Cook – May 24, 2017
Apple’s board has urged shareholders to reject proposal to tie executive compensation to racial diversity quotas – February 27, 2017
Apple Inc. fights shareholders group demand for more diversity – February 15, 2017
Apple touts diversity of recent hires – August 3, 2016
Apple inches toward workforce diversity – January 20, 2016
Diversity report shows Apple’s U.S. workforce still mainly white and male – January 19, 2016
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

104 Comments

  1. Diversity of thought need not apply.

    Denise has clearly been put in her place. She’d better stay there, shackled in the chains of political correctness, or she will be quickly expunged by Apple’s thought police who are captained by the Chief SJW himself, Tim Cook.

    1. That’s utter nonsense. And it’s easy to throw around the term ‘political correctness’ when you’re a member of a group that has benefited for a very long to for some very politically incorrect behaviors.

      There’s a reason people of color don’t have much of a presence in various types of jobs–just as there is that women are underrepresented in many technology-orientated fields–and that has nothing to do with your nonsensical definition of ‘political correctness’ though what it does have to do with is an effort to ostracise-whether deliberate or not–people who aren’t white males.

          1. The native Americans just got in the way and were dealt with, the Africans picked cotton and were mainly relegated to the South, the Chinese – who the hell cares, and believe it or not the Irish immigrants were actually WHITE!

            The development and industrialization of the U.S. happened due to the work and innovation of white European immigrants. You snowflakes can try to rewrite history all you want but it doesn’t change the facts.

            1. I have been watching the ratings on this post for the last five hours, hoping against hope that it would eventually receive more negative than positive votes.

              Screen this… begins by dismissing the First Peoples as useless and praising their ethnic cleansing. Genocide is good, because white supremacy is all about Blood and Soil.

              He then ignores the substantial population of free persons of color in both the North and South, and the role of African-Americans beyond agriculture. They provided most of the labor that built the Antebellum South (most of the public buildings in the District of Columbia, for example). Beginning in the 1930s, African-Americans provided a major share of industrial labor in the North. But we have to ignore all that that because black accomplishments, like the Holocaust, have to be denied. White guys with really deep tans must have done all that.

              He goes on to dismiss the largest ethnic group on the planet, which built most of the transportation infrastructure in the American West, with a “who the hell cares.” Evidently he thinks all those guys with odd eyes, pigtails, and coolie hats working the railroads and mines and the entrepreneurs who built prosperous Chinatowns were white.

              He wraps it all up by suggesting that the Irish Catholics who inspired “No blacks or Irish need apply” signs in the mid-19th century were regarded as more than dirt by their white Protestant contemporaries. They were actually among the major targets of the first KKK in the 1800s; Catholics were THE primary target of the second KKK in the 1915-35 era.

              His conclusion that the development and industrialization of the US was solely due to white European immigrants is simply untrue. Having fabricated this completely false “historical” narrative, he then accuses his opponents of rewriting history.

              And all that gets at least a 70% favorable rating. As GoeB might say, “Nuff said.”

            2. Counsellor, do not expect statistical portents of the future from isolated posts. The temperature of this bloodshot forum doesn’t represent that of the voting population. But if it did, you and I might be packing provisions into a boat bound for a faraway, uncharted island.

            3. The only ‘snowflake’ is you. And obviously, you ridiculous tool, Irish people are white though they certainly weren’t treated as such for quite awhile.

              Keep worshipping you twisted little fantasy. After all, outside of it you literally possess no value, and know it.

      1. Re ScreenPhiles

        Go over to the local University and drop by the Engineering Building. Take a look at who is in the classes and labs- those are the people who should be running the tech companies in the future. Not too many women- it is a sausage fest. Not too many of certain groups that shall remain nameless but are constantly aggrieved.

        I would call that self selection.

          1. why? (DavGreg is saying that just by looking at a engineering class you can see that only certain people are interested in studying tech which is borne out by statistical studies. We can’t let discrimination etc in other areas and history confuse THAT issue of tech schools)

            Is there any indication whatsoever that (besides tech schools trying to limit Asians and to a lesser extent white males because there are so many of them) that there are barriers to prevent women and other ethnic races from signing up? High end schools actually have lower enrolment standards for certain minorities.

            Forbes:

            “According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, four of the ten most popular Masters degrees taken by men in 2011-12 (Electrical/Electronics/Communications Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Computer and Information Sciences) were what I’d call technology focused. For women, there were none (they chose other types of courses)…. The real reason why there are so fewer women in tech isn’t because of discrimination, harassment or unequal pay (although like I said these factors do exist and need to be fixed). The real reason is that most women clearly aren’t as interested in technology-related work as men are. It’s a choice.”

    1. Apple can make up whatever definition of diversity needed to promote whatever agenda is desired for the moment. Diversity is just another word used by libtards to support quotas and discrimination. Surely, Apple needs to determine what is best for its long term health: hiring the best people or not.

  2. “Hey, honey, you like those AAPL RSUs? You’d better toe the company’s multi-culti line or you’ll be out on your ass lickety split!” – Tim Cook

    Tim Cook himself, as a gay white man, should know that Denise had nothing at all to apologize for. Obviously, “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.”

    1. White men don’t know how to properly wash windows. I’ve seen it myself: they are essentially helpless. They need Latinas for that. And they need Chinese to keep their chinos pressed, and African Americans to polish their wingtips. And they need me, the Irish washerwoman, to slap ’em upside the head when they become too presumptuous, which is every five minutes.

    1. It shouldn’t have been, but these days some people wear their nerves outside their skin; just as they display their beliefs on their shirts and bumperstickers. Snowflakes.

    2. You’re going to wait a long time. This is yet another MDN ‘needle’ piece to provoke the entitlement brigade here which embraces nutters, malcontents, misogynists and unemployable_ deplorables. It’s a toxic mix but totally irrelevant in the real world.

      1. You can see the phenomenon at work in the fact that a high percentage of the comments critical of Cook in MDN’s forums imply that whatever the problem they’re jawing about, it’s somehow related to the fact that he’s gay (otherwise why mention it in the posts? Over and over and over and….).

        There’s plenty to criticize about Apple’s CEO (hand-chosen it can be added by one Steven P. Jobs), but his love life isn’t one that has a thing to do with whether the iPhone has a headphone jack, the price of its new speaker or the design cycle and product plans for Macs….

        1. Except for one detail. Before he was outed as gay, and later admitted it, Cook was already being attacked for all the other reasons. The gay factor was just more free ammunition. Rabid detractors are all about decimation, reduction, and humiliation. They don’t hear any grace notes in the melody of life, only power chords.

    3. Those that were upset, were so because ‘thought and mental diversity’ is not good enough. There must be diversity in physical attributes as well; sex, gender, race, and other social metrics. They were upset because she implied that 12 white men could be acceptable, and that is not what some people want to hear from a diversity manager.

      1. Hmmm….my fiancé is blue-eyed and blond hair. Of course she is female, and of Russian descent, but she also happened to be raised in a Muslim society (yes, a LEGAL immigrant) and therefore has Muslim culture in her thinking, so if the high-heels were on the other foot, hence females instead of men, would the “downtrodden” females who weren’t white judge her because of her color? Is there no diversity other than skin color? To me, the main difference between me and many others is not the COLOR of our skin, but the THICKNESS of it.

    4. Its a shame that the very valid point she was trying to make has been lost in her choice of words. I guess the only criticism could be that that particular choice of words allowed those who want to see and exploit differences for their own motives to play the race card rather than take in her very sensible take. I think her apology actually shows her frustration with herself in allowing that divisive exploitation to take over the true message which is that true diversity has wider perameters than the narrow ones some like to portray it as which has the capacity to simply readjust prejudices rather than truly expand opportunity beyond the purely visual. It’s a narrow line to tread trying to vocalise it however.

  3. 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.

    The true racists are those who are offended by that sentence.

  4. The other day when so many were cheering Smith’s original words that diversity was actually more ‘open’ and based on ability etc, I said it was all B.S and politics will rear it’s head. And yes, almost immediately she has to retract her words as pressures from various political groups like Black Lives Matter bite.

    Diversity Rules as it is applied in many places today makes hiring SUBJECTIVE and rife to abuse. No longer is Qualifications key but some STRANGE subjective balancing act (Look how CONFUSED Smith is, Apple’s VP of diversity, she’s not even sure of her own mind and has to retract her words. Imagine the confusion of the H.R managers under her.. ! . ) .

    I had said that Diversity and Inclusion is actually political B.S and hypocrisy, it’s unevenly demanded among industries and actually discriminates against certain groups.

    1) UNEVENLY DEMANDED

    The NBA’s players are 80% African American, yet diversity groups do not make the same demand on it as it does Apple.

    NOTE: BOTH the NBA and Apple are BUSINESSES, the NBA is a multibillion dollar industry with millionaire franchises yet the same rules do not apply.

    let me repeat that : they are BOTH BUSINESSES.

    Why is it that NBA is allowed to be NOT diverse ? Do pressure groups like Jesse Jackson who protested against Apple or Black Lives Matter not know that the NBA (which is on TV screens near constantly) exists?

    Why is it that one BUSINESS can say : ” we select DUE to ABILITY and NOT USA DEMOGRAPHICS” but the other Apple can’t.

    No one gave me any good reason why this is so.

    (I want the best Players in the NBA and criteria should be ability but I want the SAME rules applied everywhere. If an H.R manager in a company like Apple is biased and won’t hire qualified minorities then FIRE his AZZ but not weird gerrymandering diversity rules not based on ability which Even CONFUSES SENIOR MANAGEMENT LIKE SMITH)

    2) SELECTIVE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON POLITICAL POWER OR LACK OF IT

    when we have weird social engineering like this Diversity and Inclusive B.S some people gain while others are going to get discriminated against.

    How can Apple a tech company reflect general demographics when some groups are not interested in studying tech as stats show. There are fewer women than men and way fewer African Americans than Asians or Whites in tech schools . These are just statistical FACTS, Just like there are very few qualified Asian BASKET BALL PLAYERS. I’m not being racist , just pointing out facts).

    (i’ll talk About Asians to get the White component out of the way and Asians are ALSO a minority like African Americans. but they are treated way differently )

    Apple a tech company can’t reflect general demographics when tech school stats are like this:

    Look at Caltech enrolment:

    CALTECH ENROLMENT UNDERGRAD 2016- 2017: 42 % ASIAN.
    here let me repeat that :
    CALTECH ENROLMENT UNDERGRAD 2016- 2017: 42 % ASIAN.

    (in grad stats the Asian component drops and White Males increase)

    This is similar to near all high end tech schools in spite of discriminatory SAT requirements (Asians need about 450 SAT points more than African Americans to get into Ivy League schools due to ‘Diversity’ rules etc,) except for those schools who keep EXTREME quotas against Asians due to political pressure (i.e limit Asians to 10% or whatever. I.E your SKIN COLOUR COUNTS more than YOUR SCHOLASTIC ABILITY. This is politically correct ‘diversity’ in many schools ).

    (I’ve spoken to Asian Grads before, they laugh derisively about the ‘diversity’ policies in colleges , tech enrolment in companies (controlled by politically motivated ‘inclusion’ HR managers) as ‘TOTALLY RACIST’ )

    They did stuff like that back in the day to JEWS, limiting qualified Jewish students from many centres of higher learning, denying qualified Jews for jobs to to their ethnicity and now due to ‘Diversity’ rules we are applying it again.

    Again PLEASE NOTE THAT BOTH ASIANS AND BLACKS ARE MINORITIES.

    but Since Asians are a POLITICALLY POWERLESS minority : no one, not the pressure groups or the diversity bleeding hearts GIVES A SHIT about them (I use language like that because people including those supposed caring ‘social liberals’ don’t seem to REALLY care and I want to emphasize the issue)

    Some White folks are well meaning, perhaps carrying ‘White Guilt over Slavery’ like Tim Cook but there are actually fostering and encouraging discriminatory policies. But again perhaps its just politics and the Asians don’t have any political power while others do. Companies aren’t worried about Asians, they seldom cause violent riots.

    A couple weeks back HISPANIC media personalities angry over their lack of recognition for Academy awards vs African Americans said they were tired of being nice and will start AGITATING , perhaps in USA everybody including tech workers need to agitate.

    like I said the other day:
    I’m going to get one starred again but that’s just the psycho social babble poppy cock we live in. The only lesson I get is that if you don’t have political power (like the Asians) you are f-ucked, they supposedly ‘diversity’ folks would happily discriminate against you and pat themselves on the back. Hypocrisy.

    1. I’ll surely run my own company again and when I do I’ll have the HR manager collect the resumes and redact anything from them that would or could identify someone.

      Personally, I don’t care about your skin color. If it turns out that I hired a cockroach with exceptional coding skills, then those that didn’t get the job can go home and cry on their mom’s shoulder.

      1. I agree with your post. You would prosper as you would get the best talent.

        I was thinking redacting non qualification info too, employers can also do skill tests and assessments. (I remember taking tests where a serial number was inserted instead of my name).

        People today are not stupid, it’s a hyper competitive society, when you are risking your own money on a business you want the best.
        —-

        For those who read my post, let me be clear I’m not against any ‘group’. I just believe that talent and qualifications should be foremost whether it’s pro ball or tech.

        There are only a few specific instances where ‘qualification’ might be ethnicity, for example you might need a muslim to market halal (muslim kosher) food in the Middle East , but most technical skill jobs should be color blind — diversity would appear by itself (if you just search for talent).

        (if there are societal problems like schools being unfunded in certain ethnic areas etc . then it’s politicians who need to deal with it. When you have companies trying to step in all kinds of strange things and confusion starts to happen as seen by Denise Smith’s retraction. Subjective criteria like ‘what sex orientation, what race etc’ leads to all kinds of abuse ).

        1. As a woman, I was on the receiving end of engineering bro culture for enough years to understand the fine structure of the word ‘resentment’. It is a powerful feeling that exists on both sides of the power divide and is extremely difficult to overcome to the point of exasperation. Once a hire is made, the feelings persist like molasses. The pressure to fit in is intense. To my shame I found myself deferring to male group leaders, even when I felt like objecting.

          Once I became an independent contractor, the situation reversed itself. I was tempted to choose team members (subcontractors) based on camaraderie or like-mindedness, but forced myself to use established industry rubrics instead, provided by my old HR department. I picked a team based on statistics.

          It turned out for the best. The team I assembled, especially Phil, were terrific and we did good work over a several year period. I might have had more fun with a gang I could party with.. but I’d rather have the money we made together.

  5. It is all but guaranteed that this kind of thinking will only further erode Apple. Not being permitted to hire the best people for the job, regardless of who they are, and having to consider people’s ‘feelings’ will bring progress and real innovation to a complete halt, eventually. At some point, if we don’t come to our senses, true professionalism will disappear, too.

    I do not respect Tim Cook’s Apple, I refuse to bow to the ludicrous PC police, I will not treat millennial kids as though they are fully-formed adults nor will I accommodate their fragility (that was their parents’ job, they failed miserably) and if Apple quality slips too much, I *will* take my business elsewhere.

    Tim Cook is the biggest profit-monger masquerading as a hero I have seen in a very long time. There have been times over the past several years when all that kept me with Apple was their privacy policies. That is still enough . . . for now.

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