She is also responsible for Apple’s corporate training program, called Apple University.
The position opened up in May when the company moved its former human resources head Denise Young Smith to the newly created position of vice president for inclusion and diversity.
Prior to this new role, O’Brien served as the company’s vice president of worldwide sales and operations. She has worked at Apple for about 30 years.
“As long as I’ve been at Apple, Deirdre has been the glue that bonds our operations, sales, marketing and finance teams to deliver products to our customers,” Cook said in a statement. “Deirdre deeply understands Apple’s unique culture and that people join Apple to do the best work of their lives. She is a superb leader and I’m thrilled she will be bringing her experience and talent to this critical role.”
The latest appointment comes at a critical juncture for the company, which has 25,000 employees in Silicon Valley.
Apple reported in 2016 that it only made small gains in hiring female and minority talent, according to its annual diversity report. Among its 80,000-person U.S. workforce, the number of Hispanic workers grew to 12 percent, up from 11 percent in 2015; blacks made up 9 percent of workers, while women comprise 32 percent of Apple’s 125,000-person global workforce.
The company’s leadership statistics were even less encouraging. Female managers at Apple remained stagnant at 28 percent globally; black managers based in the U.S. remained at 3 percent; and the number of Hispanic managers in the U.S. rose slightly to 7 percent, up from 6 percent in 2015. Apple has said that the company prefers to promote from within and at the senior level could take longer than they might at other tech firms.
On the brighter side, Apple reported that it has closed pay gaps attributable to gender and race.
“This past year, we looked at the total compensation for U.S. employees and closed the gaps we found,” the company wrote in 2016. “We’re now analyzing the salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all our employees worldwide. If a gap exists, we’ll address it. And we’ll continue our work to make sure we maintain pay equity.”