Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) released data today showing it is slightly more diverse than some of its Silicon Valley rivals.
Of the company’s U.S. employees, 70 percent are white or Asian. Eleven percent of Apple’s workers are Hispanic, and 7 percent are black, closer to the national averages for the total U.S. workforce than some other technology companies. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, added that 30 percent of its workforce is female. The company has 98,000 employees.
“Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook wrote in a blog post. “They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them.”
The world’s most valuable company is the latest to report diversity numbers amid a debate about whether women and minorities are underrepresented at Silicon Valley technology firms. Facebook Inc., Google Inc., EBay Inc., and others have all disclosed workforce information in recent months. The research has added fuel to the discussion by showing that the companies are predominantly male and mostly white and Asian.
At Facebook, Google and Twitter, women make up about 30 percent of staff and blacks about 2 percent. At EBay, women are 42 percent of its staff and 7 percent of its U.S. employees are black, the company said last month.
Google helped start the recent spate of diversity reports when it unveiled its data in May. Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, highlighted in a blog post the lack of qualified minority and female technology experts, citing a U.S. Department of Education study that found women earn just 18 percent of computer-science degrees in the U.S., and that blacks and Hispanics each collect fewer than 10 percent of computer-science degrees.
Last month, Cook said Apple planned to eventually release information about the diversity of its workforce. A group of shareholders has pressed the iPhone maker to diversify its leadership ranks and board, which has two female directors, including the recent addition of BlackRock Inc. co-founder Sue Wagner.
Apple’s numbers include the workers at its worldwide retail store chain. Many other technology firms don’t run retail outlets. Apple declined to break out data on the diversity of store employees, who as of last September were more than 50 percent of its total workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 49.7 percent of the 3.23 million retail salespeople in the U.S. in 2013, one of the larger categories of retail employees. Blacks and Hispanics were 11.7 percent and 15.7 percent of this workforce, according to the BLS.
Of Apple’s technologists, such as hardware engineers and programmers, 20 percent are female, the company said. That’s a higher percentage than at companies such as Twitter, where 10 percent of technology workers are women, or enterprise software company VMware Inc., where 19 percent of its technology workers are women. Just 6 percent of technologists at Apple in the U.S. are black, while 7 percent are Hispanic.
While Apple lagged behind other companies in making its diversity data public, Cook has made it a personal cause in recent months. He gave a speech on gay rights and racism at an event held by his alma mater, Auburn University, at the United Nations in December. Apple also recently pledged $100 million to a federal program called ConnectEd to provide technology to schools serving underprivileged communities.
The company has been increasing its efforts to recruit women in recent years, said Ignatios Vakalis, head of the computer science department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.
“They do not want to publicize what they do, but when they come to campus I can tell,” Vakalis said. “They’re always asking for names of our female students.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Burrows in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at email@example.com Jillian Ward