Apple’s head of diversity backtracks on statement that team of white men can be ‘diverse’

Denise Young Smith

Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first-ever vice president of inclusion and diversity, has apologized for opining that it is possible for a group of “white blue-eyed blonde men white men” to be diverse.

As TechCrunch reports, Smith was asked during a summit in Bogotá, Colombia, if black women were a “priority” for her in her new role. Her response was lengthy, but in a comment that drew criticism online, Smith said, “I focus on everyone. 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 or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around …because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads.”

She continued, adding, “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.”

TechCrunch, reflecting broader criticism of Smith, notes that her comment suggests “there really is no need to look beyond any sort of seeming homogeneity within Silicon Valley’s tech workforce (which is mostly white and overwhelmingly male).” And in a letter to her Apple team members on Friday, Smith apologized for her phrasing.

“I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture,” the letter reads. “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.

“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.”

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

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