Tim Cook talks importance of diversity & inclusion during speech at Auburn University

Tim Cook today sat down for a speech at his alma mater, Auburn University, and talked on a variety of different topics. The details of the speech, entitled “A Conversation with Tim Cook: A Personal View of Inclusion and Diversity,” were shared by student-run newspaper The Plainsman…

One of the center points of Cook’s speech was that students must be aware  of the different cultures around the world. He explained that you can’t just appreciate different cultures, but that you should celebrate them:

“The world is intertwined today, much more than it was when I was coming out of school,” Cook said. “Because of that, you really need to have a deep understanding of cultures around the world.”

“I have learned to not just appreciate this but celebrate it,” Cook said. “The thing that makes the world interesting is our differences, not our similarities.”

Tim Cook spent the majority of his speech on this subject: diversity. He specifically talked about Apple and how it has worked to build a culture of diversity that works towards creating great products. He noted of how many people who are engineers and computer scientists, are also musicians and artists:

“We believe you can only create a great product with a diverse team,” Cook said. “And I’m talking about the large definition of diversity. One of the reasons Apple products work really great – I hope you think they work really great – is that the people working on them are not only engineers and computer scientists, but artists and musicians.

It’s this intersection of the liberal arts and humanities with technology that makes products that are magical.”

Cook was asked by a public relations student about how to best go about managing a workforce that consists of diverse individuals. He explained that you have to be okay with the fact that you may not know why someone does a certain thing, or why they worship what they worship.

“In order to lead in a diverse and inclusive environment, you have to allow that you may not personally be able to understand something someone else does,” Cook replied. “That doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

For example, somebody may worship something else as you. You might not be able to understand why they do that. But you have to allow that the person not only has the right to do that, but they likely have a set of reasons and life experiences that have led them to that.”

Tim Cook shared a picture from his Auburn visit on Twitter, noting that he also caught up with author Paul Finebaum while visiting.

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