Apple Diversity Chief Forced Out After Saying White Men Can Also Be ‘Diverse’
Silicon Valley’s disdain for its mostly white, mostly male tech workforce has reached absurd new heights.
The New York Post is reporting that, after just six months on the job, Apple Diversity Chief Denise Young Smith, who was named vice president of diversity and inclusion in May, has resigned her post after making a “controversial” comment last month during a summit in Bogota, Colombia.
What was Young’s crime? She insinuated that “diversity” can still exist among a group of white men because of their different life experiences.
“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” the inaugural diversity chief said.
“Diversity is the human experience,” she said, according to Quartz. “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.”
That’s right: Young, who is – for the record – a black woman, has been forced out of Apple because her views on diversity were too inclusive.
As the Post pointed out, Young’s comments appeared to defend Apple’s overwhelmingly white and male leadership at a time when the company’s makeup is markedly uneven. This begs the question: What, exactly, was she defending them from?
Young, a 20-year Apple veteran who previously served as the company’s head of worldwide human resources (a senior level position), was later forced to apologize for her remarks, telling Apple staff that her comments “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it.”
“For that, I’m sorry,” she said in an email. “More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”
“We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation,” an Apple spokesman told TechCrunch in a statement. “We’re thrilled to welcome an accomplished leader like Christie Smith to help us continue the progress we’ve made toward a more diverse workplace.”
In 2017, only 3 percent of Apple’s leaders were black, and women held just 23 percent of tech jobs, according to Fortune. Female leadership stood at 29 percent, Apple said.
“Meaningful change takes time,” the company said in its diversity report. “We’re proud of our accomplishments, but we have much more work to do.”
Smith will leave the company at the end of the year. Taking over as VP of inclusion and diversity will be Christie Smith, who spent 17 years as a principal at Deloitte.
She is also a white woman.