Apple has way more black and Hispanic workers than other tech companies

August 12

(KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images)
(Apple)
(Apple)

Apple's come out with its first-ever diversity report, following recent moves by companies like Google and Facebook to do the same. At one level, the numbers aren't that surprising; like its peers, Apple is dominated by whites and men. But a closer look reveals something else: That there are way more blacks and Hispanics than you might expect.

Fifty-five percent of Apple's U.S.-based workforce is white. That's comparable to other tech companies where the figure ranges from 50 percent to 60 percent. Apple seems unique, though, in that its Asian population is far smaller, at 15 percent compared to 30 percent in the case of Google and 39 percent in the case of Yahoo.

So what makes up the difference? Blacks and Hispanics, who together account for 18 percent of Apple's U.S. workforce. At other companies, those demographics add up to around 5 or 6 percent.

(Apple)
(Apple)

It's still not very high in Apple's case, but the disparity between Apple and other tech companies can probably be attributed to the company's substantial retail workforce. That conclusion seems supported by further data from Apple showing that blacks and Hispanics are more highly represented in non-tech positions.

Despite the good news about minority employment, chief executive Tim Cook admitted that Apple wasn't perfect.

"I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page," Cook wrote in a note accompanying the report. "They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them."

It's clear that, like many of its peers, Apple has some work ahead. But this is also the company with a penchant for presentation — the one whose former chief executive kept revealing "one more thing" to the public for more than a decade with dramatic flair.

In keeping with that style, Apple's delivered its diversity report along with a glossy-looking video that tries to capture how diversity inspires Apple from the inside out.

"Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity," wrote Cook. "It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, like sexual orientation, veteran status, and disabilities. Who we are, where we come from, and what we’ve experienced influence the way we perceive issues and solve problems. We believe in celebrating that diversity and investing in it."

Yes, Cook is telling a story here designed to put his company in the best possible light. But it's inspiring in its richness, conveyed with the attention to detail and accessibility that many consumers have come to expect from Apple.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung · August 12