Apple HR Chief Says New Diversity Numbers Will Show Improvement

Apple Inc. will report a 1 percentage point increase in its proportion of black employees, according to Denise Young Smith, the company’s head of human resources.

“We were pleasantly surprised to realize that we did have some movement,” Smith said Tuesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Apple reported last year that 7 percent of its workforce was black; 55 percent was white; 15 percent Asian and 11 percent Hispanic. About 13 percent of the U.S. population is black and 2.4 percent is two or more races, according to the Census Bureau. Apple’s workforce is 70 percent male.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has said that the company needs to increase its diversity. Advocacy groups and others have criticized Silicon Valley for having a disproportionately white, male workforce.

Smith, who has worked at Apple for 18 years, said diversity in hiring is integral to the Cupertino, California, company’s talent strategy. Its next report on the topic will be released this summer and show increases for women and racial minorities, she said. The announcement also will be more transparent, she said, without elaborating.

“The potential for bias exists all the time,” she said. “We’re working really hard to start to bring more of that thinking and more of those conversations into Apple.”

Smith replaced Joel Podolny in February 2014, when he left the human-relations post to focus his time on Apple University, a training program.

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