Apple’s Diversity Chief Apologizes After Being Called Out for Saying a Team of White Men Can Be ‘Diverse’

Apple Vice President of Diversity Denise Young Smith (Paul Mongi/Getty Images)
Apple Vice President of Diversity Denise Young Smith (Paul Mongi/Getty Images)

Denise Young Smith, Apple’s vice president of inclusion and diversity, sent out an apology to her team Saturday after being dragged for comments she made on diversity at a conference in Bogota, Colombia, last week.


“I regret the choice of words I used to make this point,” said Smith in the memo, referencing the comment she caught heat for: “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond 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.”

TechCrunch obtained Smith’s email to her team, which can be read in its entirety below:


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.



I hope that Young Smith’s clarified representative outlook translates into action. In its most recent diversity report, Apple’s nonwhite workforce grew by a percentage point: African-American employees went from making up 8 percent of Apple’s workforce to making up 9 percent of it, Hispanics went from 11 percent to 12 percent, and Asians from 18 percent to 19 percent.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



Apple’s non-white workforce grew by a percentage point