BY: MARIYA GUZOVA
Apple shareholder Antonio Avian Maldonado recently submitted a proposal for a new recruitment policy that would bring more women and racial minorities into Apple’s senior management and board of directors.
Currently, 15 out of the 18 people that make up Apple’s executive team are white men, and white men also fill five out of the eight spots on the board of directors. Out of the remaining three, two are women and one is a black man.
The board rejected the new recruitment proposal, calling it “unduly burdensome and not necessary because Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company.”
Apple does, however, implement a number of efforts towards diversity, including providing black students with scholarships when they attend historically black universities, giving iPads to underserved schools in the US and sponsoring the Grace Hopper conference for women in technology.
Apple promotes their employees’ diversity through different advertisements on their websites and in their stores.
Apple also reported that in the past year they hired 11,000 women globally, which is 65 percent more than in the previous year. In the United States, 2,200 black employees were hired, a 50 percent increase over last year, and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase.
But these efforts only made a one percent difference for company demographics. Last year, 55 percent of Apple’s employees were white. This year, it’s 54 percent. Additionally, in 2014, the company was made up of 70 percent males and 30 percent females, whereas in 2015 it was 69 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
Still, efforts made an almost indiscernible one percent difference for company demographics in the past year.
The policy rejection happened in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that was shaking Hollywood. The Academy Awards nominations didn’t feature a single person of colour in any of the major categories, leaving some entertainment figures extremely upset. Big names like Lupita Nyong’o, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee all threatened to boycott the academy if changes weren’t discussed and implemented. Actor George Clooney sided with the #OscarsSoWhite sentiment in an interview with Variety. “I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction,” Clooney is quoted as saying.
The main debate to come out this controversy stems from the fact that the Academy Awards are a symptom of a much deeper and more systemic underrepresentation problem in the entertainment industry. Understanding who sits in decision-making positions in major companies gives insight into the kinds of factors they may prioritize when it comes to recruitment.
The Academy Awards are a symptom of a systemic underrepresentation problem in the entertainment industry.
It’s not surprising that a board, made up almost entirely of white men, wouldn’t view racial diversity in recruitment as an immediate issue since it is not their story or struggle. By implementing diversity changes to the senior ranks of companies, the voices and concerns of otherwise unheard groups are brought into the dialogue of organizational and systematic conversations.
These initiatives wouldn’t just be for good PR or basic human equality but also for the company’s long-term commercial benefit. New research has found that, of the 366 public companies analyzed, those with the highest levels of racial diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians. What’s more, companies with greater gender diversity outperformed their peers by an average of 15 percent.
New research finds that inclusion in organizations is not only beneficial for society, but for the businesses themselves.
While these findings don’t necessarily indicate a causal relationship between diversity and company success, they do point to the idea that companies who show initiative and commitment to diversity tend to fare better. Despite these findings, the study says 97 percent of US companies don’t have senior leadership that reflects the country’s ethnically diverse labour force.
In a recent interview concerning #OscarsSoWhite on Good Morning America, Spike Lee said, “this goes further than the Academy Awards. It has to go back to the gatekeepers.” In order to see more racial diversity in industry, we need to change the people in charge of making changes.