Apple is stepping up its efforts to become a more diverse workplace this week by promoting longtime employee Denise Young Smith to a new job as the VP of Inclusion and Diversity at Apple.
Smith, who joined Apple in 1997 and served in several key HR roles, will report directly to CEO Tim Cook. According to 9to5Mac, Smith’s promotion means Apple is currently going without a permanent VP of HR. CFO Luca Maestri is reportedly filling in while the company searches for a replacement.
Apple confirmed Smith’s promotion today with an official statement:
“Our inclusion and diversity efforts are critically important to Apple’s future. Denise’s years of experience, expertise and passion will help us make an even greater impact in this area.”
During the last three years, Smith served as Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Human Resources and Talent. Jeffrey Siminoff was the last person to lead Apple’s inclusion and diversity efforts, but he was only a director and didn’t report directly to Cook. Simioff parted ways with Apple in 2015 to join Twitter, leaving the role open for the last two years.
Sources at Apple that spoke to TechCrunch say Smith’s new position is a “significant upscaling of responsibility” compared to the job Simioff. The move is seen by employees as a positive step forward for the company that has received heavy criticism over the last few years for being dominated by white males.
In its latest diversity report, Apple’s workforce was only 9 percent black and 12 percent Hispanic. Smith’s job will be to increase those numbers by working with the education community as well as making sure Apple’s workplace fosters an environment that encourages diversity and inclusion.