Apple exec says company's workforce diversity has improved

ASPEN, Colo.---Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) plans to release an update on the company's workforce diversity later this summer but a top human resources executive with the company said today that the company has seen some improvements in terms of hiring women and minorities, particularly African-Americans.

Speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference here, Denise Young, vice president of worldwide human resources, said that the company saw a 1 percent increase in hiring of African-Americans, noting that the U.S. alone the company hired 2,200 African-Americans since the 2014 workforce diversity numbers were released in August 2014.

In that 2014 report, Apple said that 55 percent of its U.S. workers were white, 15 percent were Asian and 11 percent were Hispanic and just 7 percent were African-American. In addition, in 2014 the company reported that 70 percent of its employees were male. Young also said that globally the company hired 12,000 women in the past year. As of Sept. 27, 2014, Apple had around 92,600 full-time employees.

But Young noted that the company still has a long way to go. She said that one thing Apple has learned is that it takes a lot of focus and attention to workforce diversity to make a difference. "These are large-scale, complex challenges," Young said. "They didn't happen overnight and they can't be changed overnight."

She also emphasized that Apple CEO Tim Cook is very committed to making a change at the company. "He understands that a diverse workforce will make our products better," she said.

Young also said that she believes the tech industry needs to stop tagging diversity as a problem and instead think of it as an integral part of every company's talent strategy.

Young also noted initiatives that Apple is involved in to help improve the number of women and minorities in tech. Specifically, she mentioned the company's involvement with the National Council of Women in Technology, which focuses on teaching young women about opportunities in tech.

Of course, Apple isn't the only company committed to improving diversity in tech. Intel recently said it would invest $125 million in startups run by women and minorities. The new fund will be run by Intel Capital and some of that amount will overlap with the previously announced $300 million the company has promised to spend on diversifying its workforce.

Related articles:
Intel to spend $125M funding startups run by women, minorities
Apple's Tim Cook: Tech has itself to blame for gender gap
Google's latest numbers reveal depth of diversity challenges

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