In a recent letter published by the Rainbow/PUSH organization, Reverend Jesse Jackson chastised Apple and a number of other Silicon Valley tech firms for the dearth of female and minority employees among the executive ranks.
The letter reads in part:
Technology is supposed to be about inclusion, but sadly, patterns of exclusion remains the order of the day. When it comes to African Americans on Board - ZERO. C-suites, ZERO. Minority firms in IPO's and financial transactions, advertising and professional services - ZERO. These ZEROES are contrary to the enlightened values exposed by the industry. Rainbow PUSH is seeking meetings with tech leaders to address these ZEROES head on.
With respect to Apple and corporate diversity, the company currently has only one female board member -- Andrea Jung. It is worth noting, though, that Apple this spring will wellcome Angela Ahrendts as the company's new retail chief. Also of note is that Apple last year hired former EPA chief Lisa Jackson, herself an African American, this past May.
The San Jose Mercury News further adds:
Another African-American, Denise Young-Smith, runs Apple's human resources department, which oversees the personnel policies governing the iPhone maker's nearly 85,000 employees and contractors. She reports directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Earlier this year, Apple amended its Nominating and Corporate Governance charter to read that the company is "committed to actively seeking out highly qualified women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen." While the move was welcomed by some, others viewed it as nothing more than an empty gesture.
Some of the other companies on the receiving end of Jackson's letter include Twitter, Facebook, HP, and Google. Indeed, Jackson plans to attend HP's annual shareholders meeting today in an effort to bring more attention to the issue.
And speaking of HP, company VP Henry Gomez issued the following statement to the Associated Press today in response to Jackson's letter.
It reads in part:
While we certainly agree that diversity is an important issue in corporate America, we're puzzled by Rev. Jackson's sudden interest in HP. Today, HP is the largest company in the world with both a female CEO and CFO and nearly half of our leadership team and Board of Directors are women and minorities. Additionally, nearly 50 years ago, HP established the first Minority Business Program in the United States.