This week, Apple promoted Denise Young Smith, its global head of human resources and a 20-year veteran of the company, to a newly created VP position in charge of diversity and inclusion efforts, according to 9to5Mac. The role means Smith will be in charge of the team responsible for improving Apple’s diversity figures, helping make the iPhone maker’s workplace, hiring practices, and other HR-related business aspects more open to and conscious of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community. Smith has since confirmed the role on her LinkedIn profile.
Prior to Smith, the role was held by Jeffrey Siminoff, a director at Apple who left the company in late 2015 to join Twitter. Because Siminoff was only a director-level employee, he still reported to Smith, who then reported to Cook. Now, because of the significantly higher rank of Smith’s prior VP role, she’ll have a direct line to Apple’s CEO. According to TechCrunch, Apple employees sees Smith’s role as a “significant upscaling of responsibility.” Prior to heading up the global HR team, Smith ran HR for Apple’s global retail operation.
Apple, like many tech companies, is predominantly white and male — its latest diversity report indicates that the company’s workforce is 68 percent male and 56 percent white. Only 12 percent of Apple’s workforce identifies as Hispanic, while only 9 percent is black. Smith’s role is primarily aimed at helping to improve those numbers, both through outreach in the education community and through examining the company’s hiring practices and workplace culture. The goal is to ensure that Apple is not losing employees to competitors early on, or fostering an environment that discourages minorities and women from applying for positions at Apple.