Apple held a special event today, announcing the new iPhone SE, new iPad Pro, update to Apple TV, new Watch bands, ResearchKit and Carekit. Unlike its last event, where there was little diversity and a grand total of zero black people, this event prominently featured Apple Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson as the second speaker, right after Apple CEO Tim Cook.
@jedmund AND a POC
— Allen Tan (@tealtan) March 21, 2016
Jackson, who spoke about Apple’s robots called Liam that take apart iPhones for reuse and recycling, was the first-ever person of African-American descent to serve as administrator of the Environment Protection Agency. She joined Apple in 2013.
By the end of the event, Apple had a total five people on stage. Four were white men and one was a woman of color. At Apple’s last event, there were 13 white men, one Cuban American man, one Asian man and three white women. So, Apple actually had a slightly higher female to male ratio (20%), as well as a higher non-white to white ratio (20%) of speakers at today’s event than its event last September. Representation matters at big tech events like this because if young people can’t see themselves in prominent roles, it’s harder for them to aspire to attain them.
Earlier this year, Apple very quietly released its EEO-1 report, which breaks down employee data by things like race, gender and job categories. The report, which represented employee data as of August 2015, showed slight diversity progress, with the hiring of 1,475 African-Americans, 1,633 Hispanics and 1,662 Asians over a 13-month period. In that same time period, Apple hired 4,096 white people.
Last October, Apple added James Bell, former CFO and president of The Boeing Company, to its board of directors. Although Bell is not the first black person ever to serve on Apple’s board, he’s the only black person currently serving on Apple’s board of directors.