Apple’s diversity VP apologizes for controversial statement at summit this week

Apple’s VP of inclusion and diversity, Denise Young Smith, made an appearance this week at the One Young World Summit in Colombia and caught fire for some of the statements she made. According to TechCrunch, however, the Apple executive has apologized to employees for her choice of words…

At the event this week, Smith was explaining how Apple focuses on diversity and commented that there could be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room who are still diverse:

“Diversity is the human experience,” the Apple executive said. “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”

“There can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” Smith remarked.

In her apology, which was sent to team members at Apple yesterday, Smith explained that she understands why some were offended by her statement and attempted to clarify what she meant:

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion. 

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. 

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.  

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone. 

Denise Young Smith was originally Apple’s head of Worldwide Human Resources, but she moved to the newly created inclusion and diversity role earlier this year, with Apple explaining that the efforts in this area are “critically important to Apple’s future.”

Smith’s full apology memo can be seen below:

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard. 

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion. 

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. 

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.  

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone. 

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other. 

Best,

Denise

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