No, Apple Doesn’t Care About Inflating It’s Senior Management/Board Minority Quota

January 16, 2016 1 Comment

Unless your a predominately minority institution (Such as a Historically Black College or the NAACP), there is usually a push to increase the diversity among the participants. The University I attended was no exception to this rule. Not to say that my university was predominately white, but chances are the classes you registered for would have been mostly white.

The demographic background consisted of roughly 48% white, 14% Hispanic, 10% black and 9% Asian. If you relate this statistical breakdown into all classes, with an average class size of 18 students, find that roughly half the class is minority, while the other half is white.

However, this breakdown only applied to universal core classes, which were classes everyone is required to take, regardless of major. Demographical concentration shift dramatically once students started to take classes that related more towards their major. I noticed these changes because my field of study is Finance, and business majors aren’t normally so diverse. Although there were not as many women as there were men, there were significantly fewer minorities taking business related classes.

You don’t have to take my personal anecdotal story as the gospel. According to the latest Georgetown University survey, What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors, you’ll find the college majors with the highest concentration of minorities aren’t in business related fields. The Majority of Black degree holders is concentrated in areas such as Liberal Arts, Social Work, and Community Organization while Asians degree holders are concentrated among STEM majors. Hispanic degree holders tend to choice a wide variety a fields, such as Psychology, Engineering, and International Business.

What is the point of all this? There is never any rhetoric, especially among the social justice warriors, of the need to diversify the workforce, especially among higher levels of senior management at major Fortune 500 corporations. That is a reasonable idea; most people aren’t against diversifying the workplace and adding more minorities to senior management positions; however, this is particularly difficult to do if you have so many different groups of people scattered around various occupations and professions. Most corporations are not in the business of being fools, and Apple Inc. is no exception to his rule.

Recently, Apple’s shareholders have submitted a proposal to increase the diversity of its senior management, and it’s board of directors, particularly among Hispanics, African-Americans, Native-American and other people of color (Asians were notably absent from this proposal). Of course, it’s not uncommon for shareholders to intimate proposals similar to this.

Surprising, Apple doesn’t believe such things are necessary.

Our Board of Directors shares this commitment. Pursuant to its charter, the Nominating Committee of our Board of Directors actively seeks out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which Board nominees are chosen, and this has been reflected in our most recent appointments to the Board.

This proposal would require the Board to adopt an accelerated recruitment policy for increasing diversity among senior management and the Board. We believe that the proposal is unduly burdensome and not necessary because Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company.

For all of the reasons above, the Board recommends a vote AGAINST Proposal No. 6.

This is not to say that the company doesn’t care at all about diversity; it does. It has even strived to improve the diversity among its workforce and proves the information for everyone to track via its diversity report.

While the company hasn’t made significant improvements, it is improving:

If you compare occupational categories among Apple’s different racial and ethnic employees, you’ll find that these figures coincide with the college major concentration I’ve mentioned previously. Asians consist of the largest minority among Apple’s staff, while consisting of 25% of the tech division. Hispanics and Blacks make up a greater portion of the non-tech and retail division at Apple (15% among Hispanics and 11% of Blacks).

Asians consisted of 19% of all new employees in 2015 while only 13% were Hispanic and 11% were Black. Interestingly enough, 21% of the leadership within the company were Asian. Most people may find this disparity disappointing, but it only make sense. It’s a tech company. Technology and Engineering majors are mostly concentrated among the Asian persuasion. Naturally, more Asians will seek these positions, especially the higher paying ones.

Increasing the diversity among your employees is one thing; increasing the diversity among the senior management is another. It would probably be best to appease everyone and just hire anyone, regardless of their experience or education. Unfortunately, we still live in a meritocratic society, where the most talented and capable fill the most important roles in our economy.

For example, according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, many top executives have bachelors and masters degrees; these degrees tend to be very relevant in their related occupation. Also, many senior executives tend to advance within the firms of their employment, usually advancing from supervisory or lower managerial positions. For example, while Apple is still the subject of this entry, Tim Cook was employed at Apple since 1998. Other examples include the current CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, who has been at GM since she was 18 years old (she is currently 54).

This is not to say that firms don’t prefer to hire qualified candidates from outside of their organization; they do. If anything, if a firm chooses to fill a leadership role from the outside, the candidates are very likely to be highly qualified and educated. Employees without a college degree are more likely to move up the ranks in industries like retail and transportation to eventually become executives or general managers.

The point is, if people want to fill managerial/leadership roles in our corporations, they need extensive managerial experience, quality education in their relevant fields as well as administrative qualities (communication, problem-solving, leadership, etc). It may not always be a perfect match, but choosing qualified candidates is a rigorous process. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand this and believe Board of Directors is going out of their way not to hire women and people of color in management roles (or they’re just blatantly choosing the white guy).

This is not to say that Apple is rejecting diversity policies, or that it should. Apple as been very vocal on diversity, whether this involves increasing it within the company or on the outside. Apple is working with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which provides scholarships to students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The firm has joined President Obama’s ConnectED initiative to provide Apple technology, experience and support to 114 underserved schools across the United States (which reaches mostly Hispanic, Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, or Asian heritage). Apple also sponsors the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and has worked with a variety of other STEM organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Apple will still face criticism for not doing enough when the firm is doing all that it can (within reason). People make their individual goals, and make the best decisions they can when it comes to achieving these objectives. However, I suppose America is the only place where minorities take up lower-paying majors in college and wonder why their worthless liberal arts degrees isn’t making them six figures on Wall Street.

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