Apple, Intel Make Slow Progress on Diversity

New diversity reports from Apple and Intel show that the companies have made an effort to hire more women and under-represented minorities in the past year, but those gains still are not enough to bring parity to the tech giants' workforces.

Apple's report, published Thursday, revealed that the company's global leadership is 72 percent men and 28 percent women. Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged in the report that “diversity is critical to innovation and it is essential to Apple’s future,” noting the need to have women and minorities designing products that would appeal to an increasingly diverse audience.  

“In the past year we hired over 11,000 women globally, which is 65 percent more than in the previous year,” Cook said. “In the United States, we hired more than 2,200 Black employees — a 50 percent increase over last year — and 2,700 Hispanic employees, a 66 percent increase. In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year.”

Intel has also made an effort to increase the number of women and under-represented minorities hired during the first half of 2015, according to a report the company released Wednesday.

"Of the new employees Intel hired for the first half of 2015, 35 percent were women, 4.7 percent were African American (Black), 7.5 percent were Hispanic and 0.3 percent were Native American," the report read. "For women and African Americans, we are hiring at rates well above current workforce representation."


Even so, those hiring efforts resulted in only a 0.6 percentage point increase in women employees overall -- from 23.5 percent of Intel's workforce to 24.1 percent. The number of African Americans overall increased from 3.4 percent to 3.5 percent; the numbers of Hispanics and Native Americans remained the same at 8.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. 

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has pledged $300 million to improve diversity by 2020 through new hiring and employee retention goals. The chip maker is also investing $125 million in businesses run by women and underrepresented minorities.

“While we are far from done, early signs are positive and our momentum is strong,” Krzanich said in a public letter on Wednesday. 

“Apple and the tech industry has demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging complex problems in the world,” The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, said in a statement. “Inclusion is a complex problem – if we put our collective minds to it, we can solve it, too.”  

Both Google and Microsoft recently named Indian American CEOs. While South Asians are not considered an underrepresented minority in tech, the moves are a major step in increasing diveristy in upper management. 

“Apple, Intel, and Microsoft have recognized the need to diversify their teams because building products through a diverse lens makes for good business and innovative products that serve the masses [which are] comprised of diverse product users,” says Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech.

Even companies that cater to a mostly female audience are struggling to recruit and maintain women in their workforces. Eighty percent of the customers at Etsy, the craft-and-collector commerce site, are female, yet the tech team there is nearly 70 percent male, according to Etsy's 2014 diversity report. And that's a major improvement: In September 2011, Etsy's engineering and operations department was 97 percent male. 
“Having diverse leaders at the top is incredibly important as it shows companies culture and inclusiveness,” Kapin says. “It's important that staff or staff that you are recruiting can see themselves within leaders at the company. It sends a message that our door is open to all and not just for white men.”