Following this week’s unveiling of Apple’s long-awaited smart watch, the company has pledged a whopping $50 million toward creating job opportunities for women and people of color in tech—an industry that has lacked diversity.
The smart-device innovator has stated its commitment to diversity, continuing momentum generated by Intel and Google earlier this year. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each company is contributing to the long-overdue shift.
In an interview with Fortune magazine, Apple human resources head, and Grambling State University graduate, Denise Young Smith revealed her company’s goals. “We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” Smith said. “There is tremendous upside to that, and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”
Apple will commit the $50 million over several years to create job opportunities for veterans as well as women and people of color. The company has specifically donated $40 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which is a nonprofit organization for students at HBCUs. Apple has also teamed with the National Center for Women & Information Technology to help increase the number of women graduating with four-year degrees.
Microsoft, Apple’s longtime competitor, has already granted support to the NCWIT. Still, demographics at both companies show the need for a greater internal focus on diversity.
White employees represent 54 percent of Apple’s tech workers and 56.4 percent of those at Microsoft. The former also has a tech workforce that is 80 percent male, while the latter’s male tech workforce stands at 83.3 percent as of Dec. 31, 2014.
Fortune ranks Microsoft as the least diverse of the 14 major tech companies that have released workforce-demographics data. Apple, on the other hand, is positioned second to LinkedIn.
In January, Intel announced a $300 million fund to increase the number of women and minorities in the tech industry. The move will create opportunities for minorities by providing engineering scholarships to HBCUs.
According to the New York Times, the main focus of the plan is to increase the population of women, African Americans, Latinos and other minorities at Intel by at least 14 percent during the next five years.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson praised Intel for exceeding all expectations with its contribution to the diversification of the tech industry. “There is no comparison,” Jackson said when asked to draw parallels between the initiative and those by other companies. “It is far beyond at this point. I think others are going to follow their lead.”
Code2040 aims to help African Americans and Latinos find jobs in the tech industry. The nonprofit organization has several partners, including Pandora, GitHub and the Knight Foundation. Google emerged as one of the most valuable players in Code2040’s mission to provide minority-group members with additional opportunities to thrive in tech. In fact, Google donated more than $775,000 in grants to the cause in February.
The Verge reports that Google funding will go toward helping Code2040 launch free training programs for black and Latino college students. Additionally, the money will boost Code2040’s efforts in three new cities.
The move is noteworthy, given that a report about Google’s demographics as of January 2014 revealed that 61 percent of the company’s overall U.S. workforce was white. Meanwhile, only 3 percent of employees identified as Hispanic or Latino, and 2 percent as African American.
Among its tech workers, only 2 percent of the Google team was Latino and only 1 percent was black. Eighty-three percent of the tech workers were men, compared with 70 percent of all workers at the company.
Trent Jones is an editorial fellow at The Root. He also produces a daily video commentary called #Trents2Cents. Follow him on Twitter.