Apple’s first-ever Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Denise Young Smith, is leaving Apple at the end of this year. After more than 20 years with the company, but only six months in her current position, Ms. Young Smith will be transitioning out of her role at the tech giant and transitioning over to Cornell Tech, who recently announced that 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.
So who will be taking over the diversity and inclusion reign’s at Apple in January?
Ms. Christie Smith, a former 17-year Deloitte principal, and current Head of People at Grail, Inc. will assume Young Smith’s role and responsibilities, reporting directly to Apple VP for People Deidre O’Brien.
At Deloitte, Smith’s focus was on talent management, organizational design, inclusion, diversity and people solutions–so this should be a good fit and challenge for her at Apple.
Earlier this month, Apple released its first and last diversity report under Young Smith’s leadership. Although there has been some up-ticks, Apple still has a long road ahead to reflect in their workforce the demographics that represent the world and their customer base. As of July, Apple is still 32 percent female worldwide. In the U.S., 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).
Being a large company, with 130,000 employees worldwide and 83,000 in the U.S, with high retention rates–change may happen slowly–much slower than many would desire, many like shareholder Antonio Maldonado who called on Apple to implement an “accelerated recruitment policy” to increase diversity at the senior management level of board of directors, to include an increase in the number of Latino, Black, Native American, and other people of color.
With Ms. Young Smith’s exit this year that will be one less person of color, specifically African American woman, in a leadership role at Apple.
We salute Ms. Young Smith, her tireless work, and her commitment to the internal and external stakeholders of Apple. She’s been one of the “only” and one of the “few” at Apple for over 20 years, but hopefully with her exit the doors will remain open for more people of color and women of color to enter the midlevel and senior level suites at Apple. We wish her the best at Cornell in 2018 and beyond. We also welcome Ms. Christie Smith to her new role at Apple next year. Her job won’t be easy, but we assume that’s the exact reason why she accepted the position.