Apple's Plan to Improve Its Diversity
The tech giant amends its charter, pledging to "actively" seek out women and members of underrepresented groups for its board.
By Albert Lin
Facing criticism from two major shareholders, Apple recently added language to its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee Charter pledging to "actively" pursue women and members of underrepresented groups for its board of directors, according to a report on Bloomberg.com.
The exact language reads: "The Committee is committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which Board nominees are chosen."
Apple's eight-member board includes just one woman—Andrea Jung, who is Asian and the only member of the board from an underrepresented group—alongside seven white men all over the age of 50. Additionally, all of the company's top executives are white men over age 40. (Angela Ahrendts will become Apple's top-ranking woman when she takes over as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores sometime this spring.)
The new language came about as the result of objections from shareholders Trillium Asset Management and The Sustainability Group over the lack of diversity in Apple's leadership ranks. Executives from Trillium and Sustainability had about five meetings with Apple's investor-relations team and had threatened to bring the issue to a vote at a Feb. 28 shareholder meeting. They dropped their objections after Apple agreed to add the language—which had been in the company's proxy for several years—to its charter, even though the company did not make any specific promises.
"There is a general problem with diversity at the highest echelon of Apple," Jonas Kron, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium, told Bloomberg. "It's all white men."
Added Larisa Ruoff, who is in charge of Shareholder Advocacy & Corporate Engagement at The Sustainability Group: "This is an issue the company is taking seriously, and is discussed at the highest levels of the company."
Apple has never participated in the DiversityInc Top 50 survey and was one of six companies that refused to release their EEO-1 data despite a Freedom of Information request from the San Jose Mercury News, saying that the information would cause "commercial harm." As a result, the diversity of its workforce and its management is unknown. However, Google (another of the six companies) searches for Black, Latino and Asian Apple executives turn up nothing.
Apple's Head of Diversity Apologizes for Saying '12 White, Blue-Eyed Blond Men in a Room' Are Diverse
Denise Young Smith said she gets frustrated when the term diversity is only "tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT."
As the representation of Blacks, Latinos and women in Silicon Valley continues to move at a snail's pace, Denise Young Smith, Apple's vice president of inclusion and diversity, offered that "12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room" equates to diversity.
The tech giant has opposed a more diverse hiring strategy for senior management roles and its board of directors.
Apple's shareholders this month will vote to try and increase diversity within management, a proposal being pushed by its major investors. Despite conclusive data showing that diversity in management is critical for a company's performance, Apple's management says the proposed policy is "not necessary."
FBI Director James Comey gave an unprecedented speech on racial profiling and tensions amongst law enforcement, but then seemingly excused it all.
Originally published Feb. 17, 2015
In an unprecedented move, FBI Director James Comey addressed a crowd at Georgetown University on the racial tensions and culture of racial profiling amongst the law-enforcement community.
But that's where Comey made his mistake: He never acknowledged racial profiling as a cultural issue.
Instead of directly approaching the issues, Comey seemed to make excuses for them. Instead of admitting that racial profiling—and, more importantly, what lies behind it—is a cultural issue, he chose to quote a Broadway musical (Avenue Q) and note that "everyone's a little bit racist."
"I worry that this incredibly important and difficult conversation about race and policing has become focused entirely on the nature and character of law-enforcement officers when it should also be about something much harder to discuss," Comey said. "Debating the nature of policing is very important but I worry that it has become an excuse at times to avoid doing something harder."
But then he began to provide the excuses.
- "Police officers on patrol in our nation's cities often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color. Something happens to people of good will working in that environment";
- "The two young Black men on one side of the street look like so many others the officer has locked up. Two young white men on the other side of the street, even in the same clothes, do not. The officer does not make the same sinister association about the two white guys, whether that officer is white or black";
- :A tragedy of American life—one that most citizens are able to drive around because it doesn't touch them—is that young people in 'those neighborhoods' too often inherit from that dysfunction a legacy of crime and prison. And with that inheritance, they become part of a police officer's life, and shape the way that officer—whether white or Black—sees the world."
And this is where Comey's excuses begin to ignore the underlying cultural problems that lead to the rampant racial profiling that he sorta-kinda admits exists.
America is segregated. It is. In nearly every major city, the population is segregated.
Even in Ferguson, the police station is located in a wealthier, mostly white neighborhood. Michael Brown was shot to death—and police presence was almost nonexistent on the night Darren Wilson's lack of indictment was announced—in an almost entirely Black neighborhood.
In many cities, that police officer walking down the street won't see two Black guys on one side and two white guys on the other.
As a result, crime is segregated. Yes, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the Black Americans who are murdered are killed by other Blacks.
And 83 percent of white murder victims are killed by other whites.
But somehow, on that mysterious street where segregation doesn't exist, the officer only sees the two Black men as resembling criminals the officer has arrested before.
Or maybe it's because almost every coworker this officer sees on a daily basis is white.
The U.S. Census Bureau has demographic data on police officers in 755 cities nationwide. In three-quarters of them, the percentage of white police officers is higher than the percentage of whites living in the city.
In 23 cities, the percentage of white police officers is three times the percentage of whites in the community.
In 29 cities, there are FIVE times as many.
So, yes, Comey was right in sorta-kinda acknowledging—something the FBI doesn't do very often—that there are racial disparities and issues that need to be addressed.
He just chose to address the symptoms instead of the cause.
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