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Apple's diversity goals for the workplace don't aim high enough

Apple Towson Town Center, Maryland

Despite Apple's push for more diversity and inclusion in its workspace, a new report from the Communications Workers of America indicates the company may still be falling short.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is an organization that's helping Apple retail workers unionize. This push has been happening all over the United States, and to help with that specific goal the CWA is using Apple's own data.

Apple's metrics indicate the company is doing better regarding inclusive hiring, but diversity appears to taper off the higher up the corporate ladder you go. The data shows that roles within Apple's management still veer towards white candidates.

The data collected between 2014 and 2021 shows that people of color are more likely to be working low-level jobs, even as the number of Black and Hispanic workers hired by the company increased by 70.1% and 93.1% respectively. The data indicates that, overall, white employees see a far greater representation in leadership roles.

An anonymous former retail manager at an Apple Store said that getting promoted at Apple is a bit of a puzzle box. They even compare it unfavorably to the popular word game, Wordle:

"It's [career advancement] a bit of a puzzle. It's like playing wordle, you just have to guess the right letter and if you don't then you don't get through and then you try again but then the word changes it can feel very arbitrary to an employee when they don't see the inner workings and they're just applying based on the job description and their experience and they get turned down five different times and each time [for] a different reason."

This mysterious path to getting a promotion is hinted at as being one of the reasons why the numbers may be skewed, with former employees saying that unless Apple "opens the gates" for the employee, getting the promotion is difficult. Even the guidelines that Apple may use for promotions appear to change, and don't rely solely on weekly or monthly metrics.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Sidney Lo is a former employee at an Apple Store in New York City, opens up about Apple's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts:

"There's always two sides of Apple: Apple as a corporate entity and Apple as a retail entity. I think from a decision perspective, some of these [DEI] decisions get lost in transition from corporate down to retail, and retail down to employees."

Moving towards a more inclusive workforce has been Apple's goal for quite some time, and the company publishes stats to help support that effort. However, the CWA's report shows that the company can still do more, especially when it comes to promoting people of color, and women, to leadership roles.

As it stands, Apple is pushing back against retail store employees unionizing. The first store to achieve unionization for its employees is located in Maryland, with more moving in that direction.