Business planning

Apple finally admits it has a diversity problem

Andrew Sadauskas /

Apple has become the latest in a string of major tech companies to admit it has a problem with gender and ethnic diversity, according to figures it released overnight.

 

The news follows a similar revelation from Google in May, which led to a string of other major tech companies, including LinkedIn and Twitter, admitting they too have gender and ethnic diversity issues.

 

According to Apple’s figures, 70% of its 98,000-strong global workforce is male, a rate higher than LinkedIn where 61% of staff are male, but roughly equal to Google and Twitter.

 

The figures also show 80% of Apple’s tech positions and 72% of its leadership positions are held by men.

 

However, it’s not just in tech roles where Apple has a gender diversity problem, with the figures showing female employees make up just 35% of non-tech roles. This compares to 50% at Twitter.

 

In terms of ethnic diversity, 55% of Apple’s US workforce identify as white, 15% as Asian, 11% as Hispanic, 7% as Black, 2% as two or more ethnicities, 1% as other and 9% are undeclared.

 

However, the figures for ethnic diversity in leadership positions are far worse, with 64% identifying as white, 21% as Asian, 6% as Hispanic, 3% as Black and 6% as undeclared.

 

In a statement, chief executive Tim Cook said “inclusion and diversity have been a focus” for the company under his leadership, but admitted the tech giant still has a long way to go.

 

“Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” said Cook.

 

“They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”

 

Cook said the company is taking a number of steps to overcome gender and ethnic inequality, including its sponsorship of LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign, and its recent pledge of $100 million to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.

 

He also said the recent appointments of senior executives Eddy Cue, Angela Ahrendts, Lisa Jackson and Denise Young-Smith are examples of how the company’s culture is changing under his leadership.

 

The figures were released just one day after the Victorian ICT for Women Network organised an event at Melbourne’s Deakin University called Go Girl Go for IT. The event was aimed at encouraging more high school aged girls, from Years 8 to 11, to consider a career in IT in order to overcome the gender disparity in the tech industry.

 

Go Girl Go for IT communications team lead Sara Ogston told SmartCompany the challenge is to encourage more girls and women in the education system to consider a tech-related career.

 

“I think a lot has to do with when applications are open for tech-related jobs, if girls or women don’t have the skills, they won’t apply or be considered for those jobs. So we need more diversity at the education level, at university and high school,” says Ogston.

 

“I also think having work experience and internships available to people who aren’t necessarily from tech-focused universities or courses can also potentially be a first step into a tech-related role.”

 

This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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