Apple CEO: Diversity is 'the future of our company'

Apple CEO: Diversity is 'the future of our company'

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said diversifying the computer giant's workforce is “the future of our company” in an interview published Monday.

“And so if you believe as we believe that diversity leads to better products, and we're all about making products that enrich peoples lives, then you obviously put a ton of energy behind diversity the same way you would put a ton of energy behind anything else that is truly important,” he told Mashable.

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Cook’s comments coincide with the start Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference — where the company is expected to announce a new streaming music service. But they are also reflective of a growing focus on diversity in the fast-growing tech sector.

Apple’s workforce is 70 percent men and 30 percent women, according to statistics released by the company. That disparity grows among technical jobs, 80 percent of which are held by men.

Other companies have also struggled to build workforces that are diverse in terms of both gender and race.

"I think it's our fault — 'our' meaning the whole tech community," Cook said, when speaking about why more women aren’t involved in technology. "I think in general we haven't done enough to reach out and show young women that it's cool to do it and how much fun it can be."

Cook said it was incumbent upon leaders in tech to speak out about the importance of diversity.

"The problem, as Dr. King said, is 'the appalling silence of the good people,' " he said. "I try to look at myself in the mirror and ask myself I'm doing enough. And if the answer is no, I try to do something more."

Since he became CEO of the company in 2011, the soft-spoken Cook has become a more prominent voice on political issues. Earlier this year, he publicly criticized so-called religious freedom laws, which advocates contend could give businesses a license to discriminate against gay customers. Cook is also openly gay.

Washington is starting to show an interest in the issue. Last month, the Congressional Black Caucus launched an initiative to help encourage diversity in tech and more science, technology, engineering and math educational opportunities for minorities.

And earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers formed the Diversifying Technology Caucus, which hopes to involve more veterans, minorities and women into the tech industry.