In the shadow of this week’s iPhone 7 launch, allegations of corporate sexism surfaced at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters in California. Executives at the company says the situation was investigated and “actions have been taken.”
Earlier this week, an piece from Mic revealed an email string between “about a dozen” female Apple employees who experienced or perceived discrimination and workplace harassment at the company campus. At the story’s core are experiences from one unnamed employee who, after overhearing what she believed to be a “rape joke,” sent an email about the matter directly to CEO Tim Cook.
On Friday, Apple’s human resources head Denise Young Smith sat down with Recode on Friday to discuss the allegations. In a statement, Young Smith said:
“We take these things not just seriously, but personally. I have been grieved over this … that someone may have had this kind of an experience.”
Responding directly to the articles, Young Smith said the incidents described were investigated and “commensurate actions” were taken. She also noted that these experiences are not indicative of Apple at large, but situations where an employee “falls short.”
Young Smith said she also wants Apple to be a community in which coworkers are not afraid to call each other out when they feel uncomfortable. She said:
“I don’t think people are too shy about doing it, but I am also very cognizant that we are still 70/30 in our very hard-core engineering team. We have to be cognizant that someone may not feel that their voice is heard or valued.”
The report said building a support structure that enables women and people of colour to speak out is a priority. However, Young Smith is now concerned that the women-at-Apple email list, the source of the Mic article, has been compromised.
Like many Silicon Valley tech companies, Apple has come under scrutiny for running a predominantly white male corporate workforce. Apple has been largely transparent in sharing progress updates on ongoing workplace diversity efforts.