Apple is still mostly white, but it’s improving

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Apple released its diversity figures for 2016 on Wednesday.
Image: Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Apple on Wednesday released its annual diversity report. And like in previous years, the company is still predominately white and male.

But that doesnt mean that its efforts to improve diversity haven’t yielded improvements. This is the third year that the Cupertino giant has released its diversity numbers and the balance is improving, albeit slowly.

The report showcases Apples diversity figures from fiscal 2016, which ran from June 2015 to June 2016.

More female and underrepresented minority new hires

Globally, 32 percent of Apples employees are now female. Thats up from 31 percent in 2015. And although a 1 percent improvement might not seem massive, when you have 125,000 global employees, it is progress.

Still, like other tech giants, Apple has work to do.

Image: apple

The data becomes a little more interesting – and a little less depressing – when you look at the trend of new hires. In 2016, 37 percent of global new hires were women. In the United States, where racial demographic data is also collected, Apple reported that 27 percent of new hires in 2016 were underrepresented minorities (URMS). Apple says that in the US, 22 percent of it current employees are considered an underrepresented minority, which includes individuals that are black, hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Moreover, the big news is that the trend of bringing more women and URMs into Apple has increased significantly since 2014. In 2014, only 31 percent of new hires were women and only 21 percent were underrepresented minorities. In 2015, 35 percent of new hires were women and 24 percent were URM.

Image: apple

During a briefing on the figures, Apple told me that it sees the new hire numbers as an excellent barometer for how employee populations will change over time.

Pay equity for female employees

For the first time, Apple also included compensation data in its chart.

Apple analyzed full compensation which includes salary, bonuses and stock option grants in the United States. It now says that it has achieved pay equity in American between similar roles and performance marks.

Image: apple

In other words, women earn $1 for every $1 earned by a man. This applies to underrepresented minorities too. Those employees earn $1 for each $1 earned by a white worker.

Apple has only revealed its audit on pay equity for the US, but it says it will be doing the same analysis worldwide.

And while pay equity is great, Apple understands that this isnt something that can be declared fixed. Like overall diversity, this is still something the company understands has to be continuously looked at and worked on.

Still lagging in tech

Apple is an interesting company to look at from a diversity standpoint because its employee base also includes retail stores.

When it comes to technical roles, 23 percent of Apples employees are now women. Thats up from 2015 when women made up 22 percent of tech employees. And its still better than Google, which improved to 19 percent women in technical roles in 2016, but it still shows that there is a ways to go.

Image: apple

To that end, Apple is continuing its partnerships with 37 STEM organizations, including Black Girls Code, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the National Center for Women in Tech and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

This week, Apple is also hosting faculty and engineers from 15 historically black colleges and universities on its campus. This is part of Apples broader initiatives – including its donations to the Thurgood Marshall Fund to hire and train more minorities in technical roles.

Apple tells me that 33 members of its first Thurgood Marshall class of scholars are interning at Apple this summer and that eight have already received full-time job offers.

Good progress, more to come

Looking at Apples trajectory over the last three years, you cant say that progress hasnt been made. The new hire figures in particular point that this isnt just lip service, but rather a situation that Apple is committed to improving.

But progress takes time.

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