Patterico's Pontifications


Apple’s First VP Of Diversity And Inclusion Steps Down

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last May, Denise Young Smith was named vice president of diversity and inclusion at Apple. She has been described as Silicon Valley’s most powerful black woman. At the end of this year, however, Young Smith will be leaving Apple, a company that prides itself on a focus to hire more women and minorities. She will be replaced by Christie Smith, who is white. Young Smith’s decision to leave the company appears to have made prior to making what some see as controversial comments she made about diversity. Others, however, see them as not only reasonable comments about diversity, but ones that speak to a broad inclusiveness in the workplace.

During a talk at last month’s One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Young Smith addressed a consistently rebuffed component in the house of diversity:

“I focus on everyone,” Ms. Smith, who has 20 years of experience in the company, said during the Oct. 4-7 conference. “Diversity is the human experience. 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 or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around … because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads. […] There can be 12 white blue-eyed blond men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”

The issue, Young Smith explains, “is representation and mix.” She is keen to work to bring all voices into the room that “can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Young Smith later apologized for her remarks, emailing staff saying that her remarks “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”

One wonders if that was enough to satisfy attorney Kiara Imani Williams, who took Young Smith to task for her “public display of ignorance,” or perhaps more accurately, her inclusive thinking. Apparently, Williams believes that, by default, being a white male prevents one from participating in any real kind of collaborative process, awareness or inclusion. Other than their blue eyes, they’ve really got nothing much to offer:

Mrs. Smith’s comment displays a very superficial and quite frankly, problematic, view of diversity. It’s a no-brainer that every living human being has a different perspective, viewpoint, and set of life experiences. In fact, nature vs. nurture studies have proven that even identical twins often have different frameworks for relating to the world around them. But workplace diversity is not about the “diversity of fingerprints”, it’s about representation, awareness, collaboration and inclusion.

Williams even takes Apple to task for its creations, including emojis:

Apple’s “diverse representation” game is laughable. Let’s start with emojis. Apple’s emoji game is not, and has never been, on fleek. A few years ago, Apple finally responded to complaints about all white emojis. Instead of creating actual emojis of color, Apple simply allows its users to make white emojis into a different color. Darkening the skin color of a white emoji doesn’t make the emoji black. I don’t know many black people who were born with silky straight black hair… but what do I know, maybe white men with blue eyes are better equipped to speak on black hair.

Those offended by Young Smith’s remarks because they believed her to be defending white men in a workplace already saturated by their presence, including at Apple, only further confirms that which many of us already believe: diversity of thought is not welcome in today’s construct of inclusion. Unless those white men are gay like Apple CEO Tim Cook, then all bets are off. What constitutes diversity and inclusion is determined by a preset narrow-minded bias that, no matter how unique an individual might be, and no matter how different their world view is, if they are the wrong gender or skin color, they’re not welcome at the table.

Anyway, as Tech Crunch notes:

At the leadership level, Apple is still predominantly run by men, who make up 71 percent of the leaders at the company worldwide. White people, meanwhile make up 66 percent of the leaders at Apple in the U.S. Meanwhile, only 3 percent of Apple’s leaders in the U.S. are are black, so Young Smith’s departure won’t do anything to help the amount of black representation at the top.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Saturday Levity

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 am

Language warning. The robots are just as annoyed with the frustrations of life as you and I are.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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