Apple has named Denise Young Smith, Apple’s Global Head of Human Resources to Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. The newly created position will be responsible for opening up Apple’s work place to more women, minorities and the LGBTQ community.
Smith is a twenty year veteran of Apple and because of her new role will have direct access to Apple CEO Tim Cook who is also gay.
Apple’s latest diversity report reveals it’s workforce is 68 percent male and 56 percent white. Apple’s workforce breaks down as follows, 12 percent identify as Hispanic and only 9 percent as black or African-American. Smith’s primary challenge is to improve those numbers. As VP of diversity she will examine Apple’s hiring practices and culture with a focus on ensuring Apple is not losing potential employees early in the hiring process.
Smith’s job will not be easy. Silicon Valley tech companies are stubbornly white and male dominated. Diversity appears to be an intractable problem for many major technology companies. Human resource experts point to the talent pipeline and the lack of outreach to black colleges as one source of the diversity problem. Companies like Google have attacked this problem by bringing HBCUs into the fold. Google has recently teamed with Howard University to create Howard West on the Google campus.
Smith is a graduate of Grambling State University and previously headed up the global HR team. Smith also ran HR for Apple’s global retail operation.