Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to take fire over the company’s lack of diversity, the mostly white, male makeup of management described by one investor last year as a “bit too vanilla.”
Women’s rights activist Cherie Blair chose words Wednesday with a little more bite. The British barrister and wife of the former prime minister Tony Blair called Cook “so shortsighted” in Apple’s seemingly less-than-urgent effort to add more women to leadership.
Blair’s comments came Wednesday during an interview with The Huffington Post’s HuffPost Rise video cast.
Three of the top 18 executives at Apple are women.
“Unless companies understand that it’s in their economic interest to change, then it’s going to be quite difficult to change,” Blair said. “We just saw an example a few days ago with the Apple board apparently deciding it would be too cumbersome or difficult for them to be more gender balanced in their own composition.
“Makes me want to say to (Cook) I can’t believe he is so shortsighted. To ignore (women’s) perspective is a very dangerous thing for any business. A company’s reputation for being trendy and . . . up-to-the-minute is going to take a bit of a dent.”
A recent Federal Employer Information report on Apple revealed slight progress in diversifying its U.S. workforce. About 30 percent of Apple’s U.S. employees are female, 8.6 percent are African-Amercian and 11.7 percent Hispanic or Latino.
An investor last year recommended Apple accelerate its efforts to recruit diverse candidates, however Apple told the Security and Exchange Commission it’s powerless when it comes to whether “recruits will accept offers.”
When Apple hosts its Worldwide Developers Conference or events to roll out new products, the company often makes news for the absence of female presenters. Some on Twitter will post running tallies as they watch live streams of Apple events.
During Apple’s fall event for new products, Apple senior design producer Jen Folse talked about changes to Apple TV. She was the only female staffer to present.