Apple’s 2015 Diversity Program Yields Amazing Leadership Results


After the 2014 release of well known Silicon Valley tech giants’ EEO-1 numbers, Diversity advocates took heart.  Maybe the public pressures resulting from 
“a step forward” in transparency, placing the information in full view, would result in a demographic turnaround.  Surely, good things had to happen from there.

Well?  Did any concerns over the transparency and public pressurechange Apple’s behavior?

Not so much.  “At Apple, the percentage of blacks and Hispanics in top positions has declined, according to the company’s website, with Hispanics at 6 percent last year, down from 11 percent in 2014, and blacks at 3 percent, down from 7 percent. Managers of Asian descent went to 21 percent from 15 percent,” according toBlumberg Business, while white leadership increased from 55% to 63%. (Diversity percentages vary, depending on the scope and strata of Apple’s workforce measured.)

Had those race percentages all been increases, the newswires would have been ablaze with congratulatory headlines. Apple’s D&I Chief would have been hailed as a national hero, and no doubt carried on the shoulders of D&I consultants to the White House for an honor.

Apple did what one prominent D&I expert recommends, “…allow a few straight White men to serve in the position of diversity and inclusion officer.”  As it turned out, however, the resulting diversity performance qualified Apple’s white male head of global diversity, Jeffrey Siminoff, to be spirited away to Twitter Inc., another diversity-free zone. Twitter just announced that it won over Apple’s chief of diversity, where they apparently hope he can duplicate the results.

Any concerns over business & industry reactions?

Not so much. RAND researchers Lawrence M. Hanser and Nelson Lim are senior social scientists at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and professors at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. They’ve effectively absolved Silicon Valley of responsibility.  They deduced from their research findings that the lack of diversity is not a problem for business to solve.  Their conclusion: “…society bears the burden of remedying the ills that lead to the benchmarks not matching population statistics.” Apple, Inc. agrees, asserting that representative diversity can’t be done.

Any concerns over what regulators might do?

Not so much.  The SEC may also agree with RAND, despite it’s expressed desire to see greater race and gender diversity in corporate governance and leadership.  “The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance said in a Dec. 11 letter that “it’s up to Apple whether to bring the matter of diversity in leadership to a vote…”  The Commission has no powers to force Apple to have shareholders vote on such a stockholder resolution.

Apple executives aren’t exactly cheering the opportunity to do so, calling a diversity resolution by one stockholder an attempt to micromanage their workforce. The forced diversity issue may predictably become divisive in shareholder and leadership ranks.

Should the SEC coerce or force Apple shareholders to vote the issue? Should Apple shareholders vote to hire the proposed Maldonado quota? For those who never would have believed that the word “can’t” was in Apple’s vocabulary,“Diversity” has apparently found it there.

Any concern over what their shareholders might think?

Not so much. Over the last 15 years, U.S. shareholders have filed a mere 57 motions asking that more women and non-whites be named as Directors to boards.  Of those relatively few “diversity resolutions that have gone to votes at publicly traded companies since 2000,” none have been approved by shareholders, according to Edward Kamonjoh, head of the U.S. strategic research analysis at Institutional Shareholder Services in Washington.

This latest such motion, submitted by Antonio Avian Maldonado II, an Apple shareholder, has caused some commotion, Bloomberg reported.  Using a classic diversityism, Maldonado characterized the board as being “a little bit too vanilla.” (“A diversityism” in this form is a verbal microaggression committed by a diversity adherent primarily against white males.)

Any concern over what their customers might think?

Ummm — No.  Record sales revenues, record EBITDA, record net income, and pretty much record everything else in 2015, as diversity in leadership decreased.

So, what message is this industry leader and global commercial behemoth sending to the rest of Corporate Earth concerning “the business case” for diversity? If the world’s leading innovator, most admired and influential among the wealthiest companies on the planet has experienced this kind of epic fail with Diversity in leadership, surely the results will show up in their earnings report…next year.

Whether the earnings go up or down, either way, after a decade and a half of shareholder “no” votes to diversity quotas in other businesses and sectors, it’s a fairly sure bet how Apple Inc.’s owners will vote on this one. “Don’t go trying some new fashion. We’ll take the good times. We’ll take the bad times. We love you just the way you are.

Copyright © 2015 Robert D. Jones – All Rights Reserved



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