12 white dudes in room is totally diverse, says Apple VP of Diversity


diversity Apple
Apple is pledging to do more on the diversity front.
Photo: Apple

Creating diversity at Apple isn’t just about making sure more people of color get added to the mix, according to the exec put in charge of creating a more diverse and inclusive culture at the iPhone maker’s offices.

Denise Young Smith, Apple VP of Diversity and Inclusion, was part of a recent panel discussion on fighting racial injustice where she talked about her mission at Apple. White men currently account for 56% of Apple’s workforce, but Young Smith says that doesn’t mean the company isn’t diverse.

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde 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,” said Young Smith during the panel discussion at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia

Diversity at Apple

denise young smith
Apple’s new VP of Diversity and Inclusion, Denise Young Smith.
Photo: Apple

For years, Investors have criticized Apple for not being diverse enough. Its board of directors and leadership board was filled with mostly old white men during most of Steve Jobs’ tenure as CEO. Tim Cook has made some significant additions in recent years, but says the company still has work to do.

Denise was asked whether she would be focusing on one group or area to help boost Apple’s diversity, like black women. The 20-year Apple veteran said that she focuses on everyone.

“Diversity is the human experience,” explained Young Smith. “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.”

Although per position at Apple was only created earlier this year, Young Smtih pointed out that she’s been playing this role for a long time. She is, after all, a black woman in Silicon Valley, an area not known for putting women of color in prominent roles often.

Young Smith said she sees the problem at Apple as one of “representation and mix.” Creating a work environment that brings all the voices that “can contribute to the outcome of any situation” is her main goal at Apple she says.