Apple: Leadership Diversity Is Such a Pain

Apple StoreWith only two non-white members on its eight-person board of directors, Apple, Inc.’s diversity problem isn’t quite on the level of the 2016 Oscars, but it definitely has room for improvement.One of Apple’s investors has noticed, and he’s pushing the tech giant to increase its representation of minorities on its board and among its senior management ranks. A proposal for Apple’s board to “adopt an accelerated recruitment policy” with respect to diverse leadership candidates will be voted on by shareholders on February 26th.Not everyone at Apple is thrilled with this development. In a public statement earlier this month, Apple’s board called the proposed policy “unduly burdensome and not necessary.” They’re recommending that shareholders vote it down.Instead of worrying about its diversity at the top, Apple’s board would like us to focus on the things it’s already doing to improve industry diversity, like giving scholarships to black students and sponsoring a conference for women in tech.While those efforts are well and good, we’re not buying Apple’s attempt at diverting our attention. Real and visible change at the highest levels of such a powerful organization would have an impact that cannot be overstated. (We’re also somewhat disappointed that the company whose genius gave us the iPhone and iPad couldn’t come up with a better PR line—really, scholarships and women’s conferences? That’s all you’ve got?)As Bloomberg points out, Apple’s resistance to change comes at a time when the movement for gender and racial diversity on boards is gaining steam, backed by study after study that indicates companies with diverse boards perform better financially.Our advice to Apple? You might want to jump on that bandwagon, or risk being left behind.