Tag Archives: Asian

Apple’s Diversity Chief Departs After Just Six Months

Denise Young Smith

Denise Young Smith, a 20 year Apple veteran, is departing her job as the first Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion after just six months. Smith has announced she will be accepting a position as executive in residence at Cornell Tech in January.

Smith’s departure was planned but comes on the heels of a controversial comment made in October.  Smith was speaking on a diversity and racial injustice panel at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. She was asked by Quartz’s moderator Aamna Mohdin  if she would focus on any specific group in her diversity efforts. Her reply was not well received. Smith said she wouldn’t single out any one demographic for advancement. Her comment, transcribed by TechCrunch is as follows;

“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 or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around… because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads. And I’ve often told people a story—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. The issue is representation and mix and bringing all the voices into the room that can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Silicon Valley has a serious diversity problem and Apple is not immune. Apple’s workforce numbers show that only 9 percent of Apple’s workforce is African-American, 12 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian and 56 percent white. It’s not a pretty picture when you consider that most non-white employees are found in  Apple’s retail stores. Smith was expected to at least make progress on the issue but not a lot has changed. However, she was working on developing Apple’s diversity scholarship program.

Realizing she had fumbled the issue Smith emailed her team following the comments;


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. 



Breaking It Down

This was  a sad day for the idea of diversity in Silicon Valley. People of color thought Apple had appointed a warrior to fight the diversity fight. Perhaps they did. Perhaps Smith misspoke. People do that. But her statement reveals how severe the diversity problem is in Silicon Valley boardrooms. A boardroom that she was apart of. Did she feel not focusing on a single group was an effective strategy? Again, perhaps. But diversity is about bringing in different colors of skin as well as ideas. Its about inclusion. I believe her when she said she believes in that. What she failed to realize is that ‘blue eyed blond white men” are not what her job asked her to bring in. This is just not what diversity advocates want to hear from a person in her position. Wrong choice of words Ms. Smith but lets move on. Smith is a women. A black women. A successful black women. A successful black woman at the world’s most successful company. She was in a position to change things, to make difference, To find other women and minorities who are as capable as her and look like her. I’m not going to label her a failure. But she clearly stumbled.



Tech Jobs Underpay Black Women and Minorities

Unless you’re a white man working in the tech industry you can forget getting top pay. Hired.com recently published a study indicating that two out of three women working in the technology industry are paid less than men. That’s an improvement over last year when 69 percent of women were paid less compared to 63 percent this year.

But black women appear to be the hardest hit by pay disparities. According to the study African-American women make only 79 cents for every dollar a white man made. Black men made only 88 cents for every dollar paid to white counterparts. This pay gap can cost African-American tech workers as much as $10,000 a year in salary.

Because of the intense interest in increasing diversity in the tech industry blacks are 50 percent more likely to get hired but they are likely to be offered less pay. The study revealed Latino candidates are 26 percent less likely to get hired than a white candidate and Asians are 45 percent less likely. However they are still paid more than blacks but less than white hires. For example Latinos received only $5,000 less that white hires while Asians averages $2,000 less than whites.

Courtesy USAToday

Hired’s study revealed an interesting situation. The average white software engineer in San Francisco and New York asked for $126,000 in annual salary and usually recieved an average offer of $125,000. But blacks seem to be asking for less salary and getting it. Blacks in the San Francisco bay area/Silicon Valley asked for $115,000 and in New York $113,000.

Why are black technology workers asking for less money? According to the report’s author, Jessica Kirkpatrick, blacks maybe asking for less because people base their salary expectations on what they are currently earning. According to Kirkpatrick blacks lower expectations are a reflection of past salary history and being denied raises and promotions.

This pay disparity is not going unnoticed. Google is currently under scrutinity because of accusations that it is underpaying women.  Google recently announced on Equal Pay Day that it hadclosed the gender pay gap globally.But testimony from a Department of Labor official in federal court stated that Google systematically  discriminated against women. The official went on to say that Google’s discriminatory practices were “extreme” even for the tech industry. Google has been under pressure from the federal government to produce pay data to ensure the company is in compliance with anti-discrimination laws. Google has failed to produce the information so far and called the government request a “fishing expedition.”

Black Women Leading Corporate Diversity Programs


Angela Talton

Diversity has become a buzz word in corporate America. Bringing new color and new perspectives to the workplace from the factory floor to the boardroom has never before been so urgent. Many corporations in the tech sector and the non-tech sector understand the need for inclusion has far reaching implications for industry and the nation.  Talented black women are being selected to drive this effort.

Nielsen Holdings, a leading audience measurement company, named Angela Talton  as its new Chief Diversity Officer. Talton is moving up from her former position of Senior Vice President of Global Diversity Inclusion.

According to a company press release Talton will continue to drive Nielsen’s diversity and inclusion programs including supplier diversity, training and employee engagement. Talton started at Nielsen in 2007 as senior vice president for global call center operations. Talton was formerly employed by Sears and ALLTEL Communications which was purchased by AT&T in 2013 . Talton attended University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she earned a degree in business administration. She also secured an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Nielsen’s CEO Mitch Burns said of Talton, “Diversity and inclusion are crucial to our growth, strength, and ability to innovate.  Angela’s vision, leadership and execution have helped us re-imagine diversity at a global scale. As Nielsen’s Chief Diversity Officer, she will be a vital part of my leadership team and a champion for our company wide investments to ensure our business is representative of the communities where we live and work.

Candice Morgan

Candice Morgan

Pinterest has named Candice Morgan as their diversity chief.  Morgan worked at Catalyst Incorporated for 10 years where she focused on building diverse and inclusive work environments. Catalyst is a nonprofit research group tracking women in business. Morgan will report to Pinterest’s head of recruiting.

Pinterest is one of the few tech companies to publicly set out goals to employ more women and minorities.

Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp said Morgan will “help build the programs and teams” Pinterest needs to reach its “creative potential as a company.” 

Pinterest’s business team is made up of two-thirds women. However that dominance is not reflected in other areas of the company. For example only 21 percent of the tech jobs, 19 percent of the engineering jobs and 16 percent of the company’s leadership positions are female.  Minority representation inside Pinterest reveals that only  8 percent of its employees weren’t white or Asian. Black or Hispanic employees accounted for 5 percent of business roles and less than 2 percent of engineering roles. Blacks and minorities are completely absent from leadership positions.

Pinterest is close to the half way point of meeting the self imposed hiring goals. Morgan is joining the company at a crucial time in this process. Her responsibilities will be to make sure Pinterest reaches those goals. She will also work with outside partners such as the diversity strategy firm Paradigm and internal employee groups. The company is seeking to increase the hiring rate for full-time engineering roles to 30 percent women and 8 percent minority. In July of 2015 those hiring rates were 21 percent and 2 percent respectively.

“Pinterest is willing to experiment and really sees that no one is getting it 100 percent right and there is no one solution,”  said Morgan in a statement to USA Today. “Pinterest knows to find solutions that work for Pinterest, it has to be innovative.”

Reaching diversity goals is an elusive target, ask any CEO. Most recently even Apple, the giant of the tech sector, had to admit it barely improved its diversity admitting the company remains mostly made up of white men.  

Apple efforts face an uphill battle since the even the board of directors seem to resisting diversity efforts.  Apple’s board voted down a proposal to increase the diversity of its board and senior management. The board described the proposal as “unduly burdensome and not necessary.” Apple’s board held up its ongoing scholarship programs for black students that provides 114 under-served U.S. schools with Apple products, and its sponsorship of the Grace Hopper conference for women in technology as evidence of its diversity efforts.


Interview with Dr. Ben Chavis

DrBenjaminChavisPHOTOIn the digital age the Internet is competing for the attention of black people and advertising dollars. Black media has evolved with the Internet producing numerous relevant sources of information. But are African-American newspapers keeping up with the times? Are they still relevant to the community? Are they being challenged by the Internet to remain a leading, reliable and up-to-date source of community news for black people? Can black newspapers and the Internet co-exist?

Civil rights icon and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Dr. Ben Chavis faces these questions everyday. Dr. Chavis believes that the Internet enhances African-American newspapers and that black newspapers are still a vital source of community news.

Founded in 1940 by John H. Sengstacke of the Chicago Defender the NNPA was born from a meeting of publishers of African-American newspapers. From this meeting came the National Negro Publishers Association. The organization became the National Newspaper Publishers Association 1956.

According to Dr. Chavis the NNPA membership includes more than 200 black newspapers in the United States and the Virgin Islands. Fifteen million black people read African-American newspapers. The NNPA has also launched its own Internet presence with the BlackPressUSA.com web site.

Dr. Chavis has the NNPA in his blood.  “I started writing for NNPA when I was 12 years old. Starting with the Carolina Times in Durham, NC while I was still in junior high school. So I have been with the NNPA for over 50 years. Still, as the president and CEO of the NNPA, I am still a columnist. I still write a weekly column for our news service BlackPressUSA.com.”

When asked about the relationship between the print and digital press Dr.Chavis believes strongly that black newspapers and the Internet can indeed live together. “In general the Internet, for the black press, is an additional mode of communication, mode of distribution, of the content that we produce. So we see the Internet as complimentary rather than supplanting the print press.”

Dr. Chavis has high confidence in the current state of black newspapers and their ability to grow and thrive in concert with the Internet. He acknowledges that many black newspapers have corresponding websites and believes that black newspapers must grow into content producing machines for African-Americans and other minorities.

75th-NNPA-FullColor-for-web-large_t580“For the sake of the 205 members of the NNPA we see the Internet as complimenting what we do in print. It does not take the place of print it adds to the value of what we print. As you know the Internet is driven by content. We’re in the content business. Most of our newspapers are second and third generation owned newspapers and some of these newspapers have been in these families for well over a hundred years. The African-American community trusts the content. That’s what distinguishes us from some of the major dailies and some of the mainstream press. As the demographics change in the United States, more and more people of color are not only residing in the United States but building businesses, owning more of the infrastructure, rather than just seeing ourselves as consumers we also should be seeing ourselves more as producers, as distributors, as content specialists. I’m excited.”

But Dr. Chavis is well aware that not everyone sees the black press as a legitimate news source. He addressed this at a recent speech at the Washington Informer .

“I think that race still plays a discriminating factor in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres in American life. Now, I want to say, categorically, we’ve made a lot of progress in 50 years. However, given what just happened in Charleston, SC or in New York or Cleveland or in Baltimore or in Ferguson, etc. We see that race still runs deep in the American psyche. And so when it comes to the so called mainstream papers the point I was making to the Washington Informer, a leading African-American newspaper, was that I see the black press becoming more and more, for the black community, the main stream press. So I think its a matter of positioning the black press not only for black people to read and appreciate but I also know that whites, Latinos, Asians, and others also are trying to find our newspapers.

A media research report released by Amalgamated Research (API) supports Dr. Chavis. The report pointed out that 87.6 percent of readers of black newspapers read them almost exclusively and shun mainstream newspapers. The report also revealed that readers of black newspapers are highly educated with more than half holding a college degree or higher and have above average income. And most importantly these readers do not see mainstream media as reporting fairly on black issues.

Dr. Chavis continued to stress the vital importance and growing value of content.  “I’m sure you have heard of Warren Buffet, a real trend setter in American business. He is buying up community newspapers right now. So what is it that Warren Buffet sees in these weekly community newspapers? What he sees is that they are content rich. And that’s where the black press comes in. We have some of the best photographers in the world. We have some of the best editorial writers in the world.  And we have some of the best news reporters. And I think we are content rich. So it’s a matter of us innovating. A matter of us utilizing the Internet, utilizing technology to advance the entrepreneurial place of the black press in America as well as to better inform our base constituency, the African-American community.”

A recent Pew Research Center Report indicates that many Americans are not reading the printed media as much as they used to and many have switched to the online and digital news. But Dr. Chavis pointed out that the same couldn’t be said of black newspapers. “I think one of the myths is that black people don’t read. We do read. If you go to any home, particularly in the southern part of the United States you’ll find newspapers from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s still in some of these homes. So when someone purchases one of these newspapers what they get is a newspaper that is not discarded after it’s read once. That newspaper is read four or five times in the home. Sometimes more than that. That’s why we are able to say, on a weekly basis, we reach about 20 million people in print. Which is phenomenal.”

A Pew Research Center report revealed that in 2014 African-Americans were second only to whites in newspaper readership.

But, as the president of the NNPA, is he happy with the current state of black newspapers? Dr. Chavis answered by pointing out that his task is to push the NNPA and its member’s forward.

“I’m always attempting to push the envelope so we make more progress. I think all of our newspapers are attempting to improve what they do. I think we can gain a tremendous amount of inspiration from the historic legacy of the black press. But we should not just look backwards. We have to look forward. To me we learn from the past, not necessarily to repeat the past, but to learn from it.  And one of the things we learn from the past is that to the extent that African-American owned newspapers have innovative leadership, it has the ability to not just adapt but the ability to set the trend for the community.”

“We now have a lot of millennials from the African-American community, young people, flocking to the black press. That is not only because of the content, but because young people today want to know something, yes, of the history, but they want to know how does the history apply to 2015? How will our history apply to 2016 when they have the next presidential election? After eight years of having an African-American in the White House which way is America going?  And I guarantee you the black press will have a better sense of, and be able to articulate the issues at hand.  Not only the political issues, the economic issues and the cultural issues, better than any other press in America. That’s why I am enthusiastic when I write. Sometimes I have to defend the black press because I think the black press is treated as second-class newspapers rather than first class newspapers. Not because they are not first class but it is how they are treated. That is because African-Americans themselves are treated as second-class citizens.

More than 80 percent of African-Americans are online in one form or another. Dr. Chavis was asked if he believes it’s a detriment when black people use the Internet as a news source rather than picking up an African-American community newspaper? 

“No, I don’t think it’s a detriment. And again, I don’t think it will take the place of the print press. I think people on their mobile devices want a quick hit, a quick sentence or quick headline. But to find the substantive detail they are going to the printed press. To me the Internet is a pointer to the more substantive review in print, a longer review, and more in-depth review. We need analysis, a perspective. That’s where the value of black owned newspapers comes in. The Twitter accounts, FacebookInstagramto me those are pointers to the rich content that the black American press currently has.”

Are black newspapers facing a choice between surviving and going online or remaining on paper and seeing themselves slowly die?

“I think they have to make a choice and that is how to stay in business. And the way you stay in business is to continue what you do in terms of the print press but you also add a digital compliment to what you do. You also make sure that some of the news you put in your print paper has some mobility. The fact that people have devices should not be seen as a detriment to the black press. I can tell you right now in many of our communities the circulation of the black press is on the increase. The fact that people have a mobile device does not mean that they still don’t want to have that periodical, that written document, at their disposal.”

But does the ability for African-Americans to interact with the author or the topic, or to give comment almost immediately on a story make a difference? Do you think African-American newspapers see this as a greater advantage compared to being in print?

“It depends on your base. It would be a mistake for the black press to begin shutting down the print presses and try to exist only in the digital format. I think what makes good business sense is that we continue to print but utilize multi-media platforms to attract people to the value of what you do in terms of the print world. To me it’s not either or, it’s both and all of the above. I think we have to become proficient, certainly in print, but we also have to be proficient in digital. They work together. They compliment. One of the things about the mainstream press is that they always try to build a dialectic where one lives and the other dies. No. I think they all live together and compliment and supplement one another.”

The NNPA and Pew Internet Research Center published a report that showed that African-American media, despite the over $1 trillion in buying power of black Americans, are not relied upon to advertise to black Americans. The report showed that the money spent on advertising in the black media should be substantially higher.

“The truth is we are getting advertising dollars but we are not getting our fair share of advertising dollars. That’s the issue. Given the fact that African-Americans, on a 12-month basis, spend $1.2 trillion in the U.S. economy. Very little of that money, from the consumerism of African-Americans, very little of those advertising dollars, in terms of percentage, are actually spent with African-American owned newspapers.  For example, In 2015 African-Americans purchased 28 percent of all Mercedes-Benz’s in the U.S. But Mercedes-Benz very rarely advertises in the African-American print press. But there are exceptions.  The question should be; how can black media, print media, get more advertising dollars that are more representative of the percentage of consumerism of African-Americans? I think that is the challenge, n0t just for the black press, but a challenge for corporate America. I think the time is coming, probably quicker than some Fortune 500 companies realize, that their margin of profits from African-Americans, from Latinos and other people of color, those profit margins are going to grow.”

Dr. Chavis understands the future of African-American newspapers relies upon black youth. Young black people, unlike their parents and grandparents, have grown up with the Internet and social media. Dr. Chavis was asked how African-American newspapers are serving black youth?

“I’m going to give you five short answers to that question. Number one; African-American owned newspapers, that are members of the NNPA, pro-actively reach out to younger readers. Number two; the content of our newspapers is relevant to the lifestyle and to the cultural aspirations of black youth. Number three; we employ youth. All of our newspapers are required to have apprentices, mentorships and interns. So we are building the new generation of journalists, the new generation of publicists, the new generation of publishers, of distributors.”

The final two points Dr. Chavis made when addressing the needs of black youth included ground breaking announcements aimed at doing exactly what he said earlier in this interview. He is pushing the envelope and integrating the digital with the print.

“I’ll announce this during this interview. You’ve seen Getty Images?  We are creating NNPA Images. I’m going to put a lot of these young photographers to work and make sure they get paid for their photographs. I’m developing an NNPA app. The app is based on the print content. We’re going to aggregate the content of all the 205 newspapers in the NNPA and have an enterprise app that pushes out the information to our constituency. That will increase the value of what we do in the print world. For us it’s not dialectic of having to choose between print and digital. For us they both have to work together. Number five; we have found increasing response from young African-American readers who, yes, they began their journey of searching for information with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But they don’t stop there. This is a good thing. There is a hunger and thirst for information among young people. That’s where the#Black Lives Mattershash tag caught a lot of people off guard. It wasn’t just because they had video cameras on their devices but because of what is being witnessed. Keep in mind that there is much more that is not caught on video. Young people see that everyday. So when you have an African-American owned newspaper that not only covers these stories differently, but also gives young people a voice. A lot of time when you look at so called mainstream coverage of the news its almost a put down of young people, almost a put down of their swagger, a put down of the way they dress, a put down of the way they interact with one another. In the African-American owned newspapers we lift up our young people. We give them positive images. We give them positive role models. While they are young. Young role models. Not someone who is aged. They want to have fun and make a difference while they are young. It’s our role in the African-American press to engender their aspirations. Young people, after they’re finished on their mobile devices, they turn to print.  They are very happy to see their photographs, their poems, their lyrics, or something about their latest video or their latest hit songs or sports.”

In this age of information overload, with so many competing interests for African-American attention, radio, television, Internet, do you believe that black interests are being drowned out at the local level where they matter the most?

“No. I think just the opposite. I think the media interests of black people are under served. I want to say that again. If you look at what is projected, the content, the substance, the depth, we are under-served, as a community. The reason why is because if we were better served you would not have a lot of the contradictory, self-destructive behavior that still goes on in too many of our communities. Behavior is a function of consciousness. Consciousness in one’s community is determined by the information they receive. We talk to young people they’ll tell you that they not only want to hear something or see something, they want to feel it.  That’s why all the young people are coming out with hit songs; you can’t have a hit song without a hit video. This is a visual, young generation. We talk about the oral tradition, you now have to also talk about the visual tradition and also the print tradition and all these things come together. This is a complex matrix of interests that have to be served. The African-American community is not monolithic. We have a lot of diversity within our community as all communities are not monolithic.”

“I think one of the mistakes that some of the media organizations make is, if you notice, you turn to certain channels you see the same thing over and over again. It’s not much diversity. African-Americans as well as African people in general created music, created dance, created art forms. Are we inundated with that? No. We are under served. Our young people will tell you in a minute, they find a lot of the information they receive is irrelevant, very surface; it’s without depth, and to many of them, without meaning. So here comes the black press. Our task is to make sure that what we do is relevant, is meaningful, and is useful, so people will come back. That’s the whole purpose of the black press in America. It’s not just to report the news, that’s what we do. We’re not stopping with just reporting. Our job is to change lives. Our job is to improve the quality of life of our community. That’s our job!”