A stunning declaration from Apple's VP of diversity and inclusion
Denise Young Smith, Apple's new vice president of diversity and inclusion, doesn't believe being a minority or a woman are the only criteria for diversity, Quartz reports.
"There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they're going to be diverse too because they're going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation," Young Smith said on-stage at the recent One Young World Summit, held in Bogotá, Colombia.
Young Smith had been working as Apple's VP of human resources since 1997 before moving to her new role earlier this May. The new position will involve overseeing Apple's push to create a more diverse workplace.
Young Smith believes true diversity goes further than skin color and sex. The hypothetical room of a dozen white men also incorporates diverse personal histories, which Young Smith said she is quick to embrace.
"Diversity is the human experience," she said. "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."
Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Tech.
Let's leave aside the obvious truth of this observation, because the truth has little to do with diversity politics. Ms. Smith is challenging the very basis of affirmative action if she is disconnecting race and gender from actual diversity of viewpoint, the supposed rationale for affirmative discrimination policies.
Of course, Apple, like the rest of Silicon Valley, understands that white racism, or white supremacy, or any other blaming of Caucasians for the underrepresentation of minorities, is ridiculous, when Asians are vastly overrepresented in their workforces. According to Apple's own data, whites account for 55% of its global employees, less than their share of the U.S. population.
Apple needs the best tech talent in the world to hold onto its enviable position as the world's most valuable company. Unfortunately for race and gender bean-counters, the inclination to focus on information technology is not evenly shared among all demographic slices of humanity. And competitors in places like Japan, China, South Korea, or Singapore can only laugh at the pretzel-twisting necessary to reconcile race and gender bean-counting with excellence and competitiveness.
Ms. Smith has been with Apple for two decades and obviously knows a lot about the company and its future plans. If I were in her shoes and wanted to plant a seed that is actually a bombshell (challenging the basis of affirmative action), I would do it very quietly, preferably overseas.
Maybe this is simply too good to be true, or at best a trial balloon. Still, it worthwhile keeping an eye on Apple's diversity moves from now on.