Apple's Diversity Chief Is Leaving After Only 6 Months
Apple’s diversity chief is leaving the company after holding the job for only six months.
Denise Young Smith, a 20-year Apple veteran was most recently the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, is stepping down, Apple confirmed. TechCrunch first reported on Denise Young Smith’s upcoming departure.
She will be replaced by Christie Smith, a longtime Deloitte human resources executive. Unlike her predecessor, Christie Smith will not directly report to CEO Tim Cook, but rather to Deirdre O’Brien, who is Apple’s human resources chief.
“We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation,” an Apple spokesperson told Fortune. “We’re thrilled to welcome an accomplished leader like Christie Smith to help us continue the progress we’ve made toward a more diverse workplace.”
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Earlier this November, Cornell Tech, a joint venture between Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said Denise Young Smith would join the engineering school as its executive-in-residence starting Jan. 2018.
She had irked some critics in May when she commented during a conference, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” Her comments were seen by some as insensitive to people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community, who have long faced an uphill battle in the workplace.
Denise Young Smith later apologized for her comments, saying that they “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it.”
“For that, I’m sorry,” she said in a staff email. “More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”
Apple, like many Silicon Valley companies, is struggling to diversify its workforce, especially in its leadership and in tech jobs. In 2017, only 3% of its leaders were black, and women held just 23% of tech jobs.
Cook said in 2015: “We are proud of the progress we’ve made, and our commitment to diversity is unwavering. But we know there is a lot more work to be done.”