“There’s a lot more work to be done”: Apple releases diversity report

Apple CEO Tim Cook says “there is a lot more work to be done” after the company released its diversity report for this year.


It comes as Australian tech startups are also working to improve their workforce diversity through increased transparency and a whole range of other methods.


The Apple diversity statistics show very slight improvements on last year in terms of the race, gender and ethnic makeup of the company.


Apple employees are now 31% women, up by 1% from last year’s stats. The company hired 11,000 women worldwide, a 50% increase on the year before.


“Some people will read this page and see our progress,” Cook says in a blog post.


“Others will recognise how much farther we have to go. We see both.”


Apple employees are still predominantly white, with that describing 54% of the US workforce, although the company is working to hire people from a more diverse background. Of the hires last year, 11% were black, 13% Hispanic and 19% Asian.


“In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year,” Cook says.


“We are proud of the progress we’ve made, and our commitment to diversity is unwavering. But we know there is a lot more work to be done.”


Here in Australia, Envato became the first tech company to publicly release their diversity statistics last year.


“It’s disappointing to see there’s still a substantial gap for women, particularly in leadership and technologist roles, but we understand this is a long game that doesn’t change overnight,” Envato’s global communications and PR manager Venessa Paech says.


“Slight gains are better than no gains, but there’s still plenty of work to do and no laurels to be rested on.”


Envato’s comprehensive workplace diversity figures were put out in September and showed a workforce that was 71% male, and 93% male in terms of tech roles.


In the last year, Envato has been working to improve these figures and make their workplace into a more inclusive environment.


“We’ve rolled out a range of initiatives designed to build towards success together over time,” Paech says.


“They include diversity and inclusion training for all employees and in our induction.”


“We also have smaller, tactical teams across the business looking at how we can improve the representation of particular groups, like the LGBTQI community.”


“Training and development for our people means the issue is front of mind and not an afterthought.”


Envato has also turned its attention to the recruitment process itself after revealing last year that only 5% of applicants were women.


“Running the language of our jobs ads through a diversity filter has been remarkably effective,” Paech says.


“Removing or adding a single word has increased the number of diverse candidates applying for a role.”


Last year Apple was one of many tech companies to publicly release diversity statistics for the first time.


Google led the way in May, releasing figures that showed its workforce is 70% male and 61% white.


In June LinkedIn disclosed the level of diversity in its workforce, admitting they still “have some work to do”.


The next month Twitter also admitted it has a diversity problem after publicly releasing its employee demographics. Women make up 30% of its overall workforce, and just 10% of its tech employees.


“It makes good business sense that Twitter employees are representative of the vast and varied backgrounds of our users around the world,” Janet van Huysse said.


“We want to be a business that we are proud of.”


Last month Pinterest also released diversity stats and outlined how it was planning to improve.


The company had “modest progress”, with female employees rising from 40 to 42% of the workforce.


While most of these statements and transparency reports focus on diversity in hiring, Paech says it’s also important to focus on changing the startup culture and business operations to ensure underrepresented people aren’t driven away from companies.


“Most companies are saying the right thing, but fewer are turning that into action and output,” she says.


“A piece of paper on a wall that says ‘we care about diversity’ is empty If women or minority voices are unwelcome or marginalised in the day-to-day realities of the workplaces.”


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