By Ryan Velez
Denise Young Smith made history earlier this year as the first-ever vice president of diversity and inclusion at Apple, but TechCrunch reports that not even a year later, she is already leaving the company. Prior to the position, she was also Apple’s head of worldwide human resources for three years.
Young Smith’s planned departure from Apple comes shortly after Cornell Tech announced Young Smith would become an executive in residence starting this January. At Cornell Tech, Young Smith will work with students to “build an early career-stage awareness of inclusive leadership and diverse talent,” according to Cornell’s blog.
Earlier this month, Apple released its first and last diversity report under Young Smith’s leadership. As of July 2017, Apple is 32 percent female worldwide. Nationwide, Apple is 54 percent white (down two percentage points from last year), 13 percent Hispanic (up one percentage point), nine percent Black (no change), 21 percent Asian (up two percentage points), three percent multiracial (up one percentage point) and one percent other (no change). At the leadership level, 71 percent of staff are still men, while 66 are white.
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Young Smith, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Her initial rise to the position in May sounded like a great move from one of the top companies in the tech industry, a field with some of the greatest job potential but extreme under-representation of many minority groups, particularly in leadership roles. Black leaders at Apple only made up 3 percent of the the company, and it’s unlikely that losing such a high-profile number will help these numbers.
However, Young Smith later made headlines for a controversial comment when she implied that diversity was not simply a matter of skin color, but of other factors, saying that a room of white men could still be diverse. Some point out that this could apply to mindsets and personalities, but considering the issues in the industry, many felt it was tone-deaf at best. Young Smith would later apologize Ironically, Young Smith’s replacement is a white woman, Christie Smith, who spent 17 years as a principal at Deloitte.
“We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We’re thrilled to welcome an accomplished leader like Christie Smith to help us continue the progress we’ve made toward a more diverse workplace.”