We are living in ridiculous times when a senior executive for a global company has to resign her position simply for telling the truth. Yet it happened.
Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Apple, Denise Young Smith will leave the company at the end of the year after a 20-year career with the tech giant. It appears the impetus for her resignation was comments she made last month at the One Young World Summit in Bogota.
Young Smith says, “I focus on everyone.” She added: “Diversity is the human experience. 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.” Her answer was met with a round of applause at the session.Young Smith went on to add that “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.”
Following her comments, she was widely panned as appearing to defend Apple’s largely white male leadership.
The worst part is she isn’t wrong. I spent a 15-year career hiring employees, building and leading teams. I always viewed building diverse and high functioning teams in the context of Social Styles as defined by Merrill and Reid. Their research was based on how people interacted in the workplace and was relatively easy to assess in an interview or by observation once you we familiar with the model.
Using this model on the last team I built, we had six women and two men. We had two Hispanics, one African American, one Asian and four Caucasians. We also had an excellent mix of styles, perspectives and ideas. Consequently we met and often exceeded our goals. But the team was selected based on their skills, strengths and style of interacting in the workplace. Not their gender or the color of their skin.
The idea of “Diversity” is not a replacement for the more formal program required of many employers called Affirmative Action. That program is completely based on gender and race and employers must maintain a proactive plan for attracting candidates across the government defined categories. It has been in place for decades. Diversity was meant to be a broader initiative that created competitive advantage through a more robust inclusion of ideas and experience to create better products and better customer experiences.
For example, on another measure of personality, the Myers Briggs assessment used by many organizations, I am an ENTJ. Research shows that less that 2% of women have this profile. To assume by hiring me you get the same experience or perspective as you would hiring another Caucasian woman is both simplistic and quite frankly ignorant. A good Diversity and Inclusion program knows that.
And if any corner of the world could use diversity of thought to stop from killing their brands, it’s Silicon Valley. Recently Google fired James Damore for writing a well sourced and accurate response to a solicitation of employee feedback. Their subsidiary YouTube is frequently restricting videos that do not comply with the thought police on the Left.
Twitter has recently taken on the role of Big Brother in regulating speech and behavior that violates the sensibilities of the far-Left both on and off the platform. Facebook's community guidelines also lean Left and those espousing other ideas often find their accounts limited. It has many people looking for alternatives and sooner or later there will be a choice. The rigidity of the brands above will most certainly impact their performance.
Now, follow me here, an African American woman executive at Apple who reported directly to CEO Tim Cook was first forced to apologize for having the wrong view of “diversity”. Then she was forced to resign from a 20-year career with the company for having the gall to say that diversity is more that skin color, sexual orientation and gender. I am really not sure how much more irony I can take 2017.
It is even more jaw dropping when you look at Apple's workforce statistics which outperform much of the tech industry in terms of traditional Affirmative Action measures. I'd say given the quick ouster of Young Smith, it is diversity of both thought and perspective Apple may be lacking.
Perhaps the most ironic thing of all is after Google fired Damore, Conservative street artist Sabo used Apple to troll Google for being so intolerant.
I guess with the most recent ouster from Apple, Sabo needs to make some new signs.