Apple CEO Tim Cook talks diversity, coding, more in interview with high school senior

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently offered a few words of wisdom to high school senior Rebecca Kahn as part of a National Center for Women & Information Technology outreach program dubbed "Innovator to Innovator," which grants NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Community members time with Apple executives.




The inaugural installment of "Innovator to Innovator," Cook's short interview came about as an assignment from Kahn's computer class teacher at Porter-Gaud school in Charleston, S.C. Kahn's task was to reach out to a person of interest in the technology industry, which she did via email.

Cook responded and conducted a brief interview by phone.

Kahn covered a few topics in her short time with Cook, picking the executive's brain on matters like women in tech, learning to code at an early age and human rights issues.

Cook reiterated past sentiment, saying children should learn to code as early as lower school. Apple itself has led efforts to insert coding into public school curriculums, and markets teaching tools like Swift Playgrounds. The company also conducts "Hour of Code" workshops for youth at its retail stores.

Cook is an advocate for more women in leadership roles, Kahn says. Apple, along with other Silicon Valley tech firms, have come under fire for a distinct lack of women executives. Though the company highlights progress in corporate diversity showcases, Apple's ranks include very few female executives.

Currently, Apple's top ranks include a handful of women, including environment VP Lisa Jackson, retail chief Angela Ahrendts and VP for Inclusion and Diversity Denise Young Smith.

Cook went on to urge Kahn to find and follow her "North Star," or higher purpose, an analogy he often cites when speaking with students or the media.

Kahn's interview ended with a query about Cook's role models. Being an NCWIT project, the Apple chief rattled off names of prominent women including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, four-star Air Force general Lori Robinson and Rosa Parks.

Additional interviews and essays featuring Apple executives are expected for release in the near future as part of the 2018 AiC Award festivities.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,765member
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    edited January 2018 AirunJaejony0singularity
  • Reply 3 of 20
    shompashompa Posts: 343member
    Rayz2016 said:
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    Nope. It is actually 100% wrong. Diversity is about having a certain % of all employees that fills invented ethnic/religious/values/sexual groups. That is unique to the 20 western countries and do not exist in the other 190 countries. They do this to classify people and to create conflict about something that makes certain people think they are "good people" fighting for "oppressed" people. 

    Diversity is a religion that actually is not about diversity since opinions that are not "correct" are shunned killing all creative thinking, debate and making the world better. If we had real diversity, why not quota in all believes, not just the "right ones"? 

    It amazes me how people do not see that this is the most anti-democratic force that exists in the west. Controls how we talk, how entertainment is presented and so on. And it does not exist in 190 countries.

    I hate Tim for abusing Apple to his political activism that is against the best for the company.  He is not for diversity, only "right" diversity. The new accepted norm that many westerners have: "we do not accept any other viewpoint/facts". That is the root of why so many westerners think its normal that you wage war/bomb countries "to learn them think right".  As a real diverse person: Let people have their cultures/values, A multi-ethnic world. In their own countries.  It is Tims values that make people think its normal to bomb countries that for example bans homosexuals. I do not talk about right/wrong in that issue. I talk about that other countries/cultures actually have right to their culture in their country. Something Tim does not accept and abuse.

    When will Apple's boardroom be diverce? Why is a specific ethnic group that is 1 in 650 persons over 50% Apple board (and it is the same everywhere in USA)

    Just let people do what they want at home as long as it do not hurt other people. Just hire THE BEST qualified, not after a race, sexual or anything else. (is this just a millenial thing? Again taking away responsibiltiy? "I cant be good enough to be hired, but I can be a transsexual gay person = have to be hired or I am oppressed by TheMan?

    I am so happy that I have moved from West to a military dictatorship. For the funny thing is: Its WAY more free/free speech in these countries than the brainwashed/religions west.


    lkruppboltsfan17
  • Reply 4 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,146member
    All horses are horses and should be treated with respect.  But, some breeds run faster than others while other breeds pull harder than others.
    I hope that Apple continues to select the "A" players based on the demands of the job...   Period.

    Nobody would suggest that the Patriots should put a woman in as quarterback simply to meet a diversity requirement.  (If she could throw further, faster and more accurately than Brady then fine.  But...)
    ....  So why would they suggest that Apple do that? 

    The current story seems to assume that there is no difference between male and female -- and the fact that women are under represented in tech is strictly due to bias and sexism.   But, my own experience in a highly successful tech company was that they sought out only the "A" players -- regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.  In other words, the only bias was based on ability.   As a result I worked with some excellent females who I greatly admired.  But, mostly it was white guys because their skills and abilities were best suited to the majority of the jobs...

    I think other areas (such as lawyers or teachers) have broader requirements than the mostly narrow scope of technology.  But, tech demands a particularly unique type of abilities -- often those with Asperger's fit best -- and Asperger's, for example, carries a 4 to 1 ratio of guys over girls.  

    holmstockd
  • Reply 5 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,312member
    While diversity might be a noble goal, like so many progressive agendas, it has turned into a simple numbers game. If your “group” is 15% of the population then, by the current definition of diversity, your “group” should have 15% of the jobs, 15% of politicians, 15% of criminal arrests, 15% of of the prison population,15% of the wealth. We saw this in action with Affirmative Action, social integration, busing, etc. In my neck of the woods state construction contracts must include minority and female owned businesses. Okay, fair enough I guess, but how did this work out in the real world? One well established construction company simply made the owner’s wife the President and CEO of the company. Other minority and female companies were just fronts.

    My own daughter was affected by diversity hiring standards. She applied for a job based on an ad she saw in the newspaper. She had two telephone interviews before it dawned on the interviewer that she was caucasian. The ad never said a word about ethnic preferences (I suppose that would be illegal, equal opportunity employer and all that) but my daughter was told quite frankly that the job was reserved for a woman of color. End of interview and job prospect.
    edited January 2018 rwx9901
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,765member
    shompa said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    Nope. It is actually 100% wrong. Diversity is about having a certain % of all employees that fills invented ethnic/religious/values/sexual groups. That is unique to the 20 western countries and do not exist in the other 190 countries. They do this to classify people and to create conflict about something that makes certain people think they are "good people" fighting for "oppressed" people. 

    Diversity is a religion that actually is not about diversity since opinions that are not "correct" are shunned killing all creative thinking, debate and making the world better. If we had real diversity, why not quota in all believes, not just the "right ones"? 

    It amazes me how people do not see that this is the most anti-democratic force that exists in the west. Controls how we talk, how entertainment is presented and so on. And it does not exist in 190 countries.

    I hate Tim for abusing Apple to his political activism that is against the best for the company.  He is not for diversity, only "right" diversity. The new accepted norm that many westerners have: "we do not accept any other viewpoint/facts". That is the root of why so many westerners think its normal that you wage war/bomb countries "to learn them think right".  As a real diverse person: Let people have their cultures/values, A multi-ethnic world. In their own countries.  It is Tims values that make people think its normal to bomb countries that for example bans homosexuals. I do not talk about right/wrong in that issue. I talk about that other countries/cultures actually have right to their culture in their country. Something Tim does not accept and abuse.

    When will Apple's boardroom be diverce? Why is a specific ethnic group that is 1 in 650 persons over 50% Apple board (and it is the same everywhere in USA)

    Just let people do what they want at home as long as it do not hurt other people. Just hire THE BEST qualified, not after a race, sexual or anything else. (is this just a millenial thing? Again taking away responsibiltiy? "I cant be good enough to be hired, but I can be a transsexual gay person = have to be hired or I am oppressed by TheMan?

    I am so happy that I have moved from West to a military dictatorship. For the funny thing is: Its WAY more free/free speech in these countries than the brainwashed/religions west.


    Nope. Diversity is about not turning way people because of the colour of their skin, or sexual orientation. 

    If a person is not qualified to do the job then don’t give it to him because he is black. 
    If a person is qualified to do the job then don’t turn him away because is black. 

    When Cook talks about diversity he means giving everyone a fair shot; he doesn’t mean give someone the job because they’re gay. 

    What Apple does s encourage diversity, but in the end it’s down to the candidate. 



    AirunJaejony0GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Rayz2016 said:
    shompa said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    Nope. It is actually 100% wrong. Diversity is about having a certain % of all employees that fills invented ethnic/religious/values/sexual groups. That is unique to the 20 western countries and do not exist in the other 190 countries. They do this to classify people and to create conflict about something that makes certain people think they are "good people" fighting for "oppressed" people. 

    Diversity is a religion that actually is not about diversity since opinions that are not "correct" are shunned killing all creative thinking, debate and making the world better. If we had real diversity, why not quota in all believes, not just the "right ones"? 

    It amazes me how people do not see that this is the most anti-democratic force that exists in the west. Controls how we talk, how entertainment is presented and so on. And it does not exist in 190 countries.

    I hate Tim for abusing Apple to his political activism that is against the best for the company.  He is not for diversity, only "right" diversity. The new accepted norm that many westerners have: "we do not accept any other viewpoint/facts". That is the root of why so many westerners think its normal that you wage war/bomb countries "to learn them think right".  As a real diverse person: Let people have their cultures/values, A multi-ethnic world. In their own countries.  It is Tims values that make people think its normal to bomb countries that for example bans homosexuals. I do not talk about right/wrong in that issue. I talk about that other countries/cultures actually have right to their culture in their country. Something Tim does not accept and abuse.

    When will Apple's boardroom be diverce? Why is a specific ethnic group that is 1 in 650 persons over 50% Apple board (and it is the same everywhere in USA)

    Just let people do what they want at home as long as it do not hurt other people. Just hire THE BEST qualified, not after a race, sexual or anything else. (is this just a millenial thing? Again taking away responsibiltiy? "I cant be good enough to be hired, but I can be a transsexual gay person = have to be hired or I am oppressed by TheMan?

    I am so happy that I have moved from West to a military dictatorship. For the funny thing is: Its WAY more free/free speech in these countries than the brainwashed/religions west.


    Nope. Diversity is about not turning way people because of the colour of their skin, or sexual orientation. 

    If a person is not qualified to do the job then don’t give it to him because he is black. 
    If a person is qualified to do the job then don’t turn him away because is black. 

    When Cook talks about diversity he means giving everyone a fair shot; he doesn’t mean give someone the job because they’re gay. 

    What Apple does s encourage diversity, but in the end it’s down to the candidate. 



    That's not true.  You're describing discrimination (in all classes), not diversity.  Diversity is recognizing the aforementioned descriptions in a person that are completely separate from ones ability or qualifications to do their job.  This isn't about giving somebody a fair shot.
    jony0
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,880administrator
    I've already deleted three completely off-the-wall racist or sexist comments in this thread.

    Keep it civil.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Rayz2016 said:
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    That is not what diversity means and you know it. Diversity means more various backgrounds and colors of people having the same thought process (about diversity). What it does not mean, however, is a diversity of thought, though.
    What you have described in actuality is called meritocracy, not diversity.
    When you have quotas and separate lists for the different colors, meritocracy has no place in it, because you have just removed a level playing field, so people start playing on different fields, but they still play the same game and scores are calculated based on that. That in and of itself contradicts the principle of a fair competition (from which we all benefit). Also, calling diversity - meritocracy is as Orwellian as calling war - peace.

    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Rayz2016 said:

    When Cook talks about diversity he means giving everyone a fair shot; he doesn’t mean give someone the job because they’re gay.
    What Apple does s encourage diversity, but in the end it’s down to the candidate.
    Then why talking about it? Just ignore that and concentrate on the skills. That is how you foster diversity, just like you could foster lack of racism too - you "stop talking about it" (M. Freeman). T. Cook is a fine example of a capable person. Why would you care if he is a gay or not? He (and his team) clearly can operate that huge business with success.
    So, was he hired because he was gay? No, he was not. He was hired and was able to bring himself up the corporate ladder because clearly he had skills needed to do that.
    edited January 2018 SpamSandwichrwx9901
  • Reply 11 of 20
    I suspect the REAL issue here is the pool of available and talented programmers continues to fall worldwide, mainly because of demographic trends. Programming is a tedious mental exercise and is absolutely not for everyone. Getting more bodies in that pool increases the odds of gaining more employees. Apple, like all people and people-centric activities represents a degree of self-interest. It’s in Apple’s interest to have more employees available to choose from.
    jony0
  • Reply 12 of 20
    I suspect the REAL issue here is the pool of available and talented programmers continues to fall worldwide, mainly because of demographic trends. Programming is a tedious mental exercise and is absolutely not for everyone. Getting more bodies in that pool increases the odds of gaining more employees. Apple, like all people and people-centric activities represents a degree of self-interest. It’s in Apple’s interest to have more employees available to choose from.
    Right.. But it is the demand from employers, that decreases the available body of software engineers, not the demographics. And in US at least, it was probably due to a culture of a generation of snowflakes. It is very hard to become a good and hard working engineer, when you were grown as an average millennial, expecting a huge reward for just participating. :D
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 20
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,158member
    Successful companies like Apple that take on huge challenges that require the marshaling of talent to deliver lasting customer value recognize that the real value of their organizations lies in the collective intelligence and effectiveness of their Teams. Whether it's in business, military, sports, or any other team oriented profession, it's all about building and fostering great teams. Great teams are not built on having n-number of carbon copy clones of the same individual. An NFL team with 22 Tom Bradys would be entirely dysfunctional and totally useless. Great teams are built around diversity. The required diversity includes diversity of thought process, problem solving approach, life experience, socio-economic perspective, individual / family / community culture, educational background, emotional intelligence, empathy, intellectual / professional passion, motivation, leadership ability & inclination, follower ability & inclination, ... etc. When building an effective team you also need team members with the specific hard skills required for the various roles that the task currently entails but also individual adaptability that will contribute to team adaptability to take on emerging and unanticipated challenges.  

    Yeah, this sounds like a Mom and Apple Pie kind of thing for Apple to figure out but it's non-negotiable, not because of any HR edicts or affirmative action, but because Apple is also building highly personal products for a highly diverse global customer base. How could Apple possibly embody the best interests of their customers into Apple products without Apple's workforce being equally diverse and empathetic to the many realities and subtle nuances of the many diversity attributes? They couldn't, so they would impose their own limited and narrow perspectives on their customers - blue phones for boys and pink phones for girls. Why? Because that's what Apple wanted. 

    I truly believe that the vast majority of people, but certainly not all, are totally cool with diversity. The rub and negative reactions to diversity arise out of what to do when disparities, real or perceived, exist. For example, why would a country that has about of 50% split between men and women have only 20% of its governing body represented by women? In my mind this makes no sense at all from a representation perspective. But what "should" be done about it is the real challenge. Heavy handed corrective actions like affirmative action can provide a forcing function to rebalance the mix quickly but this creates a problem for those who see the "corrective action" as a loss of privilege or the sudden opening of opportunities lowering the acceptance bar. I don't believe Apple is taking this approach at all. Just look at their BOD and Executive Tier makeup. The rate of change in Apple and most large companies is very slow. But they are taking action at all levels, especially at Tim Cook's level, to encourage and attract more candidates from underrepresented areas of diversity to jump into the candidate pool and make sure Apple's hiring processes are not exclusionary or filtering out qualified individuals that can contribute to the diverse teams they need to build and support. 

    No easy answers here, but I would encourage everyone to at least put themselves in the shoes of the person they see as being on the other side of the diversity equation and consider how they would feel when faced with either 1) inequality and 2) the consequences of corrective actions. Nobody likes to change the status quo when it's working in their favor. But those on the other side cannot be written off or marginalized due to circumstances totally beyond their own control. 

     
    AirunJae
  • Reply 14 of 20
    I don't seem to spot my preferred key element about diversity in many of the messages before. In my opinion diversity is not about an individual or a bunch of individuals. It is rather about the power of communities of people, and not only people. In fact we learn from biology that an ecosystem characterized by a richness of different components is more likely to survive, rather than an ecosystem that has limited kinds of components. At law school we also learn that the "totemic" stage of development of early human communities, where an animal or a vegetal was declared "sacred" by one community and each community adopted a different totem, ended up creating the proper diversity of forbidden food that fostered exchanges between the various tribes. Each tribe contributed with that food they were prevented to consume by their tribal rule and such “diversity" proved key to the survival of our species, since a famine related to one kind of food would not turn into death for all. In human communities the active participation of all the components is proving to be key to the survival of that same community: if we all develop and promote individuality and supremacy of the best, than war, nuclear holocaust, social injustice, exhaustion of natural resources, and extinction seem to be the likely outcomes. Now back to the instance where Tim Cook talked about diversity: that is a case where the community (Apple), in his qualified opinion, can better survive if it is powered by different components, some being the best as individuals, some being the best at creating value from teams of highly cooperating individuals, some achieving things that can be achieved in the “isolated” mood of the traditional SW programmer, some others achieving things that can be achieved only by large critical masses of highly cooperating individuals. And, having learned the lesson from biology, a team of copycat “best” ones is weaker that a team of diverse excellences. The “iPhone slowdown to mitigate the effect of battery wear” for example is not a case that could have been prevented by “better” individuals among Apple engineers or sw coders, but is a case where a better perception of the field through multiple feedbacks (numerous people) and a more appropriate communication strategy, for example a blue dot in the battery logo when the safety slowdown was in effect, could have prevented a lot of headaches for Apple. Finally, when it comes to women in the male computing industry (85% of coders and 98% of financiers are men), let’s not forget that if soccer fans are potentially better at conceiving any sw dedicated to soccer (not only at coding it), then women may be better at conceiving and providing appropriate innovation contributes during the entire creation process for sw and hw conceived for those 51% of human population on earth that are... women. And the same rationale applies to minorities whose representatives in development teams may better reflect the needs of relevant numbers of end users into digital innovation. Can anyone guess in advance the sex, the nationality, the age, the IQ, the social group, the religion, or the political orientation of the individual or the team that will invent the next solution that will make this world a better place for all? We can’t, right? So we better have as many representatives of all of these, individuals and groups, in the places where things can happen. PS: I’m personally surprised that an illuminated person like Tim Cook still objects tying executive diversity metrics to CEO performance.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Devirsity is simply this. It’s the fact that we as people can do jobs that we are trained and meant to do despite a persons age, background,gender, etc. In America we should all be treated as equal and not let anything or anyone get in the way.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    dewme said:
    Successful companies like Apple that take on huge challenges that require the marshaling of talent to deliver lasting customer value recognize that the real value of their organizations lies in the collective intelligence and effectiveness of their Teams. Whether it's in business, military, sports, or any other team oriented profession, it's all about building and fostering great teams. Great teams are not built on having n-number of carbon copy clones of the same individual. An NFL team with 22 Tom Bradys would be entirely dysfunctional and totally useless. Great teams are built around diversity. The required diversity includes diversity of thought process, problem solving approach, life experience, socio-economic perspective, individual / family / community culture, educational background, emotional intelligence, empathy, intellectual / professional passion, motivation, leadership ability & inclination, follower ability & inclination, ... etc. When building an effective team you also need team members with the specific hard skills required for the various roles that the task currently entails but also individual adaptability that will contribute to team adaptability to take on emerging and unanticipated challenges.  

    Yeah, this sounds like a Mom and Apple Pie kind of thing for Apple to figure out but it's non-negotiable, not because of any HR edicts or affirmative action, but because Apple is also building highly personal products for a highly diverse global customer base. How could Apple possibly embody the best interests of their customers into Apple products without Apple's workforce being equally diverse and empathetic to the many realities and subtle nuances of the many diversity attributes? They couldn't, so they would impose their own limited and narrow perspectives on their customers - blue phones for boys and pink phones for girls. Why? Because that's what Apple wanted. 

    I truly believe that the vast majority of people, but certainly not all, are totally cool with diversity. The rub and negative reactions to diversity arise out of what to do when disparities, real or perceived, exist. For example, why would a country that has about of 50% split between men and women have only 20% of its governing body represented by women? In my mind this makes no sense at all from a representation perspective. But what "should" be done about it is the real challenge. Heavy handed corrective actions like affirmative action can provide a forcing function to rebalance the mix quickly but this creates a problem for those who see the "corrective action" as a loss of privilege or the sudden opening of opportunities lowering the acceptance bar. I don't believe Apple is taking this approach at all. Just look at their BOD and Executive Tier makeup. The rate of change in Apple and most large companies is very slow. But they are taking action at all levels, especially at Tim Cook's level, to encourage and attract more candidates from underrepresented areas of diversity to jump into the candidate pool and make sure Apple's hiring processes are not exclusionary or filtering out qualified individuals that can contribute to the diverse teams they need to build and support. 

    No easy answers here, but I would encourage everyone to at least put themselves in the shoes of the person they see as being on the other side of the diversity equation and consider how they would feel when faced with either 1) inequality and 2) the consequences of corrective actions. Nobody likes to change the status quo when it's working in their favor. But those on the other side cannot be written off or marginalized due to circumstances totally beyond their own control. 

     
    How far do we want to take this?  Should the NBA discard most of their players because there are more blacks than there are whites or other POCs?  In other words the white family/community culture surely is not represented here, correct?  Or is it?  Your analogy of Tom Brady is not supported here.  A corporation does not have 2,000 CEOs (Tom Bradys).  They have one and then it trickles down below that.  Those that are subordinate to the CEO are not built up with Tom Bradys but Todd Gurleys and Julio Jones' and so on and so on.  Each person has a specific job and responsibility.  There is no taking into account their culture.  They want the person who is best to run the ball regardless of their culture and life experiences.  "This guy runs the ball extremely well but his cultural background has already been represented on this team so he's out".  That makes zero sense.
    edited January 2018 anton zuykov
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Atomic77 said:
    Devirsity is simply this. It’s the fact that we as people can do jobs that we are trained and meant to do despite a persons age, background,gender, etc. In America we should all be treated as equal and not let anything or anyone get in the way.
    You're blurring the lines between discrimination and diversity.  So, no, that's not what diversity is as you've laid out.
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Atomic77 said:
    Devirsity is simply this. It’s the fact that we as people can do jobs that we are trained and meant to do despite a persons age, background,gender, etc. In America we should all be treated as equal and not let anything or anyone get in the way.
    People should be treated equally by the Federal government, as spelled out in the Constitution. Individuals are not held to the same standard, even though it is generally a good idea in life to be nice to others.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Rayz2016 said:
    bluefire1 said:
    First let's talk about selecting the best and the brightest.
    Then let's talk about diversity.
    That’s what diversity is: making sure you don’t overlook the best and the brightest. 
    If diversity is based in affirmative action, it's no longer just about the best and the brightest; its about meeting quotas. 
    edited January 2018 SpamSandwichrwx9901
  • Reply 20 of 20
    “Paradox of Meritocracy” - men given more bonuses than women when evaluated using a meritocratic framework.
    The effect is reversed in a non-meritocratic setting.
    Could the idea of meritocracy let our biases roam free? 
    https://twitter.com/fdossa/status/953694357646921728
    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2189/asqu.2010.55.4.543
    edited January 2018
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