Report finds Apple's progress on diversity is slow

Report finds Apple's progress on diversity is slow
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Workforce diversity at Apple changed only slightly in the last year, according to numbers the company released Thursday. But the tech giant says it has made strides in increasing the number of diverse job candidates it hires.

Thirty-one percent of the company’s workers are women, it said, up a single percentage point from last year.

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The share of white employees decreased by 1 percent, from 55 percent to 54 percent. Eight percent of workers are black, up from 7 percent last year, and the percentage of Asian employees grew as well. The percentage of employees who are Hispanic stayed at 11 percent.

In general, the workforces at tech firms are dominated by male, white and Asian employees — something that has attracted the attention of advocates like the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

But Apple, one of the most valuable public companies in the world, said it was making progress in its diversity efforts. The company said that it had hired 65 percent more women in the last year than in the previous 12 months. In the same period, it said it had hired 50 percent more black employees and 66 percent more Hispanic employees than in the previous year.

“In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year,” CEO Tim Cook said in a public note. “Additionally, in the first 6 months of this year, nearly 50 percent of the people we’ve hired in the United States are women, Black, Hispanic, or Native American.”

In total, the company said 35 percent of new hires had been women, 19 percent had been Asian, 13 percent had been Hispanic and 11 percent had been black.

The company also released a federal report on the demographics of its employees publicly, a longstanding demand of activists, for the first time. But they said that the form "has not kept pace with changes in industry or the American workforce over the past half century.

"We believe the information we report elsewhere on this site is a far more accurate reflection of our progress toward diversity," the company said.

Prominent tech companies have recently started to release demographic data for their workforces under pressure from advocates inside and outside of Silicon Valley. That includes policymakers in Washington.

A group of lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) traveled west this month to meet with tech company leaders, including Cook. That visit is part of a larger effort by the CBC on the subject of diversity in tech.

The White House has also pushed the tech industry to focus on diversity within its ranks. U.S. CTO Megan Smith and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett visited California in June for workshop on diversity in tech. This week, the administration hosted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tech experts at an event in Washington.