Jessica Guynn, USATODAY5:33 p.m. EDT August 12, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple's diversity numbers aren't much better than the rest of Silicon Valley.
White. Asian. Male.
The difference: CEO Tim Cook has staked his reputation on fixing them.
The Cupertino, Calif., company released its first report on the gender and racial make-up of its 98,000 employees on Tuesday. "Let me say up front: As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers," Cook wrote in a letter published with the report.
"They're not new to us, and we've been working hard for quite some time to improve them," he said.
And Cook pledged that Apple would be as innovative in bringing more gender and racial parity to its ranks as it is in developing new products.
"Inclusion and diversity have been a focus for me throughout my time at Apple, and they're among my top priorities as CEO," he said.As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Cook is the first Silicon Valley CEO to take such a public stand on the importance of diversity, said Rev. Jesse Jackson.
"That is a bold and direct step," said Jackson, who has spearheaded a campaign to diversify Silicon Valley and met with Apple's leadership team in April. "This whole thing cries out for leadership. These companies must lead the way, not just begrudgingly release the data."
The debate over diversity in high-tech has intensified as major companies have released sobering statistics.
Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, EBay and LinkedIn have reported that their staffs are overwhelmingly male. Whites and Asians make up between 88% and 91%.
Yet none of the CEOs of these companies -- not Google's Larry Page or Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg -- have made any public comments about the stark lack of diversity inside their companies.
Some like Square CEO Jack Dorsey have refused to release any information on the gender and racial make-up of their companies.
"The walls are coming down to expose barren fruit trees," Jackson said. "Apple's are a bit better than the others but not by much." Rev. Jesse Jackson
Less than a third of its global work force is female, Apple disclosed.
In the U.S., more than half of its staff is white and 15% is Asian. The number of black and Hispanic employees is higher than other major high-tech companies. Hispanics account for 11% and blacks account for 7% of staffers. But those higher numbers are likely due to greater diversity among retail workers in its company stores.
Just 20% of its technical workers are women; 77% are white or Asian. Because technical employees include engineers from Apple's corporate operations and Genius Bar employees from its stores, 13% are black or Hispanic.
In putting his stamp on Apple after the death of its co-founder Steve Jobs, Cook is looking to broaden Apple's appeal and its charter. He has stepped out of Jobs' shadow by expressing support for gay rights and environmental causes and focusing on the use of sustainable products.
He has also worked to diversify Apple's board of directors and its senior management ranks. Last month Apple said BlackRock co-founder Susan L. Wagner would replace its longest-serving board member Bill Campbell, who is retiring. Cook also added former Burberry Group CEO Angela Ahrendts to lead Apple's retail group and Lisa Jackson, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead its environmental efforts.
He promoted Eddy Cue, a Cuban-American who oversees Apple's services business, to Apple's senior leadership team.
USA Today’s Desair Brown speaks with Rev. Jesse Jackson on lack of diversity in the tech industry.
But Apple still falls short in racial and gender diversity in its leadership ranks.
Just 28% of its managers and executives are women, 64% are white and 21% are Asian. Blacks and Hispanics make up 9% of Apple's management ranks.
Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition is inviting companies that have released statistics on the make-up of their work forces to a public forum in Silicon Valley this fall to explore strategies to increasing diversity in high tech.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet software and services at Apple Inc., at the Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Apple and other Silicon Valley companies say diversifying their work forces makes business sense. "We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview with USA Today. "That's not true of any industry really, and we have a long way to go."