Following Apple's publication of workforce diversity data, as well as comments from the company admitting that improvements are needed, the iPhone maker received praise from activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his nonprofit Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which advocates on behalf of minorities.
In a press release issued Tuesday, Jackson revealed he called Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook's office to "personally commend him for stepping up to the plate." He and Rainbow PUSH plan to use the data as part of a public forum this fall to discuss ways to improve diversity within Silicon Valley companies.
Jackson said the announcement shows Cook's "personal commitment and his leadership" in action at Apple. The reverend also encouraged Cook to "take further bold steps to make Apple better, and leverage his leadership to make the whole industry better."
The organization noted that although Apple itself admitted it must improve, the iPhone maker actually has a slightly more diverse workforce than other tech companies that have released their own employee data. Rainbow PUSH also praised Apple for breaking down its numbers by technical and non-technical jobs — Â something other companies have not done.
"Diversity and inclusion is good for business," the group said. "African Americans, Latinos, and women represent money, market, talent and location. Inclusion is the key to growth, and when there is growth everybody wins. Let's expand the marketplace of opportunity."
Jackson and his organization began targeting Apple and others in March, encouraging Silicon Valley giants to participated in a racial diversity campaign. His efforts have been to draw awareness to the lack of racial diversity in the ranks of top-tier tech firms.
Prior to that, Apple was also under fire for the lack of diversity on its executive team and board of directors. The company responded by publicly committing to increase diversity, and also tweaking its corporate charter to reflect that. And last month, Apple added Susan Wagner to its board of directors, adding a new female presence to the board alongside Andrea Jung.
And last month, Cook promised that Apple would release data on corporate diversity, while also remaining focused on taking action to improve its workforce. Apple quickly followed through on that promise with the data published earlier Tuesday, revealing that its global employee base is 70 percent male, while 64 percent of the company's U.S.-based leadership positions are held by whites.
Cook published a note with the statistics, publicly stating that he is "not satisfied with the numbers." The CEO said his company has been working for some time to improve its workforce diversity, and though progress has been made, he said there's more that Apple must do.