Apple CEO Tim Cook addresses workplace issues, pay equity, more in all-hands meeting

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 17
Apple CEO Tim Cook fielded questions regarding pressing employee relations topics in an all-hands meeting on Friday, and while he acknowledged certain issues, some workers were not placated by his answers.

Apple Park


Cook, along with SVP of Retail and People Deirdre O'Brien, addressed a range of subjects from pay equity to Texas' new abortion law in a meeting broadcast to employees around the world, reports The New York Times.

Activist employees told the publication that Cook answered only two of a number of questions they wanted to ask. The report fails to detail what those two questions were, but notes the Apple chief did comment on pay equity, at least in part.

The company regularly assesses compensation practices to ensure employees are paid fairly, Cook and O'Brien said, according to the report.

"When we find any gaps at all, which sometimes we do, we close them," O'Brien said.

The answer echoes a statement O'Brien offered to employees earlier this month when she said Apple had reached pay equity.

Cook on Friday also said Apple is investigating whether it can help the legal fight challenging Texas' abortion law, adding that the company's medical insurance will assist employees who need to travel to other states because of the new legislation. The company said much the same in an internal memo issued late last night.

It appears that Cook declined to answer certain questions submitted by employees, including at least one from #AppleToo coordinator Janneke Parrish. Parrish wanted clarity on concrete steps Apple had taken to ensure pay gaps were resolved and that there was more representation in leadership from women and minorities, the report said.

"With the answers Tim gave today, we weren't heard," Parrish said.

Apple in a statement to The New York Times said it is "deeply committed" to fostering a positive and inclusive workplace.

"We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters," the company said.

Today's Q&A session comes amid unrest from within Apple's ranks. Current and former employees created the #AppleToo movement to collect and share stories illustrating workplace harassment, sexism, racism, inequity and other serious allegations that have fallen on deaf ears. Hundreds of accounts have been submitted so far.

Last week, Ashley Gjovik, who spoke out publicly on unaddressed workplace issues, was fired for allegedly leaking confidential material. The termination is now being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board as a potential retaliatory action.

The report goes on to recount Apple employees' recent history of organizing, activity that was in part facilitated by the introduction of Slack. Employees attempted to discuss pay equity and remote work in separate Slack channels last month, but the efforts were squashed.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,745member
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    lkrupp9secondkox2JWSCelijahg
  • Reply 2 of 28
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,114member
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Even the most progressive employer in the world has progress to make.  "Progressive" isn't a binary switch that you flip on, it's an ongoing journey.  What you describe as "the left eating itself" is progress in action, self-challenging and self-correcting.
    dewme9secondkox2IreneWronnlorca2770bikerdudebyronlroundaboutnowAlex_V
  • Reply 3 of 28
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Even the most progressive employer in the world has progress to make.  "Progressive" isn't a binary switch that you flip on, it's an ongoing journey.  What you describe as "the left eating itself" is progress in action, self-challenging and self-correcting.

    great definition of “progressive” self-delusion



    lkrupp9secondkox2elijahg
  • Reply 4 of 28
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,114member
    riss said:
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Even the most progressive employer in the world has progress to make.  "Progressive" isn't a binary switch that you flip on, it's an ongoing journey.  What you describe as "the left eating itself" is progress in action, self-challenging and self-correcting.

    great definition of “progressive” self-delusion
    What's the delusion?

    I'm not saying that people who call themselves progressive always get it right.
    ronnroundaboutnow
  • Reply 5 of 28
    Pay is subjective at best. Gender gaps can exist for a number or reasons that are not discriminatory. Would it be fair to pay one woman with no outside obligations to limit her availability for professional development and who invests more of her time on projects for the company the same as someone who can only do the bare minimum? It even that. 

    That is the beauty of sales positions. They a general performance based pay and you pay your own way. While unfortunately favorites might get perks like being handed manager referrals, You make your own path via your actions. Want more money, do more work. 
    dewmethtelijahg
  • Reply 6 of 28
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,621moderator
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Usually there's not a massive problem, nowadays people are eviscerated over getting anything less than A+ on the purity tests. In fact, people can even get A+ and the lived reality of other people who believe otherwise is enough to fall below expectations.

    It often comes down to the same things in the end - money and power. Sometimes it's just a victim complex where people find oppression in everything. The issues are constructed in a way that they can never be resolved entirely. Some people aren't looking for resolution because if the issues go away, so do the associated job roles dealing with the issues and allocated funding.

    Pay gaps are impossible to resolve completely unless they fundamentally change the rules of employment.

    Say there are 4 software engineers with the same role, Simon (white male) gets $110k/year, Craig (white male) gets $100k, Rebecca (white female) gets $102k, Sarah (minority female) gets $103k.
    If you average the salaries and split it by gender, male average is $105k, female is $102.5k. Uh oh pay gap.
    If you split it by race, white average is $104k, minority is $103k. Uh oh pay gap.

    Here there's a gender and race pay gap but in isolation, Sarah (minority female) is paid more than Craig (white male) but the gap suggests she still gets a pay increase. Sarah gets paid more than Rebecca but there's a race gap, which suggests she should get paid even more.

    The only way to resolve pay gaps is to not have salaries negotiable, which completely changes how employment works. Employment is a competition between companies for the best employees and they negotiate salaries. Employees often assume salaries are only direct compensation for the work they do so if they do the same work as someone else, they should be compensated the same and that's not the only factor in a salary. At the executive level, the gap can be huge because of increased competition between companies to hire the best talent. All companies like Apple can do is assess if the salaries are fair and employees have to trust this, there's no other way to do this without the company disclosing everyone's salaries and justifying them.

    Even the survey done by the employees only found a 5-6% gap:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/08/23/informal-apple-survey-shows-6-wage-gap-between-men-women
    https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/23/22633141/apple-pay-equity-survey-results-wage-gap

    If they complain about such a small gap, they clearly have this delusion that it can and should be 0%. As long as salaries are negotiable, the gap between salaries split by identity will be non-zero. From the language they use, it's clear they have a contempt for particular groups of people and are looking for reasons to justify it. If they found a gap in the other direction, they'd say nothing.

    As for leadership, people can't just demand to be in positions of leadership, they have to earn leadership roles. A sure way not to earn a leadership role is to suggest you should be a leader because of your identity because that means the motivation has nothing to do with the job role itself.

    And it's not like Apple isn't doing anything or is against it, they have a whole page with animated charts about it:

    https://www.apple.com/diversity/

    The only issue that stands out and has stood out in tech companies for a long time is that Asian employees make up far more tech and leadership roles than the population demographics. Population is around 6% but in tech as much as 30%-40%. The fact they have a much higher representation than the population and it's not an issue shows there's no expectation that the representation should match the population demographics but somehow it should for other identities. These highly paid employees don't seem to understand how percentages work and that this is why the others are underrepresented. For Apple to make its leadership demographics satisfactory to the complainants, they'd have to replace at least half of their Asian staff with underrepresented groups. Again, not a reasonable expectation.

    One of the other things the people were complaining about was having to prove disability. They wanted to be able to claim they were disabled without any medical documents. This would be the same crowd that goes on about cultural misappropriation but pretending to be disabled so they can continue working remotely is perfectly fine. The employee that was fired went on disability due to the toxic apartment that affected nobody else but her.

    Apple's been at this game a long time and has employed a lot of people over the years and they can see through people's nonsense. No company can ever be free from issues between employees, they are people like everyone else and there are no rules that can ever adequately make a working environment anywhere near ideal for everyone but they clearly have a process that is working well for the vast majority of their over 100k employees worldwide.
    d_2h4y3sdewmesdw2001TenApplesUpOnTopJWSCbadmonkelijahgh2proundaboutnow
  • Reply 7 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,946member
    Marvin said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Usually there's not a massive problem, nowadays people are eviscerated over getting anything less than A+ on the purity tests. In fact, people can even get A+ and the lived reality of other people who believe otherwise is enough to fall below expectations.

    It often comes down to the same things in the end - money and power. Sometimes it's just a victim complex where people find oppression in everything. The issues are constructed in a way that they can never be resolved entirely. Some people aren't looking for resolution because if the issues go away, so do the associated job roles dealing with the issues and allocated funding.

    Pay gaps are impossible to resolve completely unless they fundamentally change the rules of employment.

    Say there are 4 software engineers with the same role, Simon (white male) gets $110k/year, Craig (white male) gets $100k, Rebecca (white female) gets $102k, Sarah (minority female) gets $103k.
    If you average the salaries and split it by gender, male average is $105k, female is $102.5k. Uh oh pay gap.
    If you split it by race, white average is $104k, minority is $103k. Uh oh pay gap.

    Here there's a gender and race pay gap but in isolation, Sarah (minority female) is paid more than Craig (white male) but the gap suggests she still gets a pay increase. Sarah gets paid more than Rebecca but there's a race gap, which suggests she should get paid even more.

    The only way to resolve pay gaps is to not have salaries negotiable, which completely changes how employment works. Employment is a competition between companies for the best employees and they negotiate salaries. Employees often assume salaries are only direct compensation for the work they do so if they do the same work as someone else, they should be compensated the same and that's not the only factor in a salary. At the executive level, the gap can be huge because of increased competition between companies to hire the best talent. All companies like Apple can do is assess if the salaries are fair and employees have to trust this, there's no other way to do this without the company disclosing everyone's salaries and justifying them.

    Even the survey done by the employees only found a 5-6% gap:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/08/23/informal-apple-survey-shows-6-wage-gap-between-men-women
    https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/23/22633141/apple-pay-equity-survey-results-wage-gap

    If they complain about such a small gap, they clearly have this delusion that it can and should be 0%. As long as salaries are negotiable, the gap between salaries split by identity will be non-zero. From the language they use, it's clear they have a contempt for particular groups of people and are looking for reasons to justify it. If they found a gap in the other direction, they'd say nothing.

    As for leadership, people can't just demand to be in positions of leadership, they have to earn leadership roles. A sure way not to earn a leadership role is to suggest you should be a leader because of your identity because that means the motivation has nothing to do with the job role itself.

    And it's not like Apple isn't doing anything or is against it, they have a whole page with animated charts about it:

    https://www.apple.com/diversity/

    The only issue that stands out and has stood out in tech companies for a long time is that Asian employees make up far more tech and leadership roles than the population demographics. Population is around 6% but in tech as much as 30%-40%. The fact they have a much higher representation than the population and it's not an issue shows there's no expectation that the representation should match the population demographics but somehow it should for other identities. These highly paid employees don't seem to understand how percentages work and that this is why the others are underrepresented. For Apple to make its leadership demographics satisfactory to the complainants, they'd have to replace at least half of their Asian staff with underrepresented groups. Again, not a reasonable expectation.

    One of the other things the people were complaining about was having to prove disability. They wanted to be able to claim they were disabled without any medical documents. This would be the same crowd that goes on about cultural misappropriation but pretending to be disabled so they can continue working remotely is perfectly fine. The employee that was fired went on disability due to the toxic apartment that affected nobody else but her.

    Apple's been at this game a long time and has employed a lot of people over the years and they can see through people's nonsense. No company can ever be free from issues between employees, they are people like everyone else and there are no rules that can ever adequately make a working environment anywhere near ideal for everyone but they clearly have a process that is working well for the vast majority of their over 100k employees worldwide.
    Wow, best post I’ve read in a very long time. Thank you!
  • Reply 8 of 28
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,745member
    Marvin said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Usually there's not a massive problem, nowadays people are eviscerated over getting anything less than A+ on the purity tests. In fact, people can even get A+ and the lived reality of other people who believe otherwise is enough to fall below expectations.

    It often comes down to the same things in the end - money and power. Sometimes it's just a victim complex where people find oppression in everything. The issues are constructed in a way that they can never be resolved entirely. Some people aren't looking for resolution because if the issues go away, so do the associated job roles dealing with the issues and allocated funding.

    Pay gaps are impossible to resolve completely unless they fundamentally change the rules of employment.

    Say there are 4 software engineers with the same role, Simon (white male) gets $110k/year, Craig (white male) gets $100k, Rebecca (white female) gets $102k, Sarah (minority female) gets $103k.
    If you average the salaries and split it by gender, male average is $105k, female is $102.5k. Uh oh pay gap.
    If you split it by race, white average is $104k, minority is $103k. Uh oh pay gap.

    Here there's a gender and race pay gap but in isolation, Sarah (minority female) is paid more than Craig (white male) but the gap suggests she still gets a pay increase. Sarah gets paid more than Rebecca but there's a race gap, which suggests she should get paid even more.

    The only way to resolve pay gaps is to not have salaries negotiable, which completely changes how employment works. Employment is a competition between companies for the best employees and they negotiate salaries. Employees often assume salaries are only direct compensation for the work they do so if they do the same work as someone else, they should be compensated the same and that's not the only factor in a salary. At the executive level, the gap can be huge because of increased competition between companies to hire the best talent. All companies like Apple can do is assess if the salaries are fair and employees have to trust this, there's no other way to do this without the company disclosing everyone's salaries and justifying them.

    Even the survey done by the employees only found a 5-6% gap:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/08/23/informal-apple-survey-shows-6-wage-gap-between-men-women
    https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/23/22633141/apple-pay-equity-survey-results-wage-gap

    If they complain about such a small gap, they clearly have this delusion that it can and should be 0%. As long as salaries are negotiable, the gap between salaries split by identity will be non-zero. From the language they use, it's clear they have a contempt for particular groups of people and are looking for reasons to justify it. If they found a gap in the other direction, they'd say nothing.

    As for leadership, people can't just demand to be in positions of leadership, they have to earn leadership roles. A sure way not to earn a leadership role is to suggest you should be a leader because of your identity because that means the motivation has nothing to do with the job role itself.

    And it's not like Apple isn't doing anything or is against it, they have a whole page with animated charts about it:

    https://www.apple.com/diversity/

    The only issue that stands out and has stood out in tech companies for a long time is that Asian employees make up far more tech and leadership roles than the population demographics. Population is around 6% but in tech as much as 30%-40%. The fact they have a much higher representation than the population and it's not an issue shows there's no expectation that the representation should match the population demographics but somehow it should for other identities. These highly paid employees don't seem to understand how percentages work and that this is why the others are underrepresented. For Apple to make its leadership demographics satisfactory to the complainants, they'd have to replace at least half of their Asian staff with underrepresented groups. Again, not a reasonable expectation.

    One of the other things the people were complaining about was having to prove disability. They wanted to be able to claim they were disabled without any medical documents. This would be the same crowd that goes on about cultural misappropriation but pretending to be disabled so they can continue working remotely is perfectly fine. The employee that was fired went on disability due to the toxic apartment that affected nobody else but her.

    Apple's been at this game a long time and has employed a lot of people over the years and they can see through people's nonsense. No company can ever be free from issues between employees, they are people like everyone else and there are no rules that can ever adequately make a working environment anywhere near ideal for everyone but they clearly have a process that is working well for the vast majority of their over 100k employees worldwide.
    Great post!  Totally agree.  It explains the way the “pay gap” is exploited and misrepresented.  
  • Reply 9 of 28
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,745member
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Even the most progressive employer in the world has progress to make.  "Progressive" isn't a binary switch that you flip on, it's an ongoing journey.  What you describe as "the left eating itself" is progress in action, self-challenging and self-correcting.
    I agree about progressive not being binary.  What I’m saying is Apple is well-known for embracing “the journey.”  The notion that there is some kind of systemic/pervasive problem with gender, race (etc.) is just not believable. I’m sure there are situations that come up…they employ 100,000 people.  

    As for the left eating itself, as I said I’m not trying to be expressly political.  It’s just an observation.  The obsession with immutable characteristics and intersectionality causes a search for new victims and oppressors.  This inevitably leads back to and turns upon those who were leading the charge.  This is manifesting itself at Apple, in my view.  Apple is renowned for promoting liberal (progressive) causes.  Their CEO is a gay man.  Steve Jobs was basically an aged hippie (albeit with a legendary temper). Look at Cook’s statement on the Texas abortion law.  The point is the culture at Apple would not tolerate systemic racism, sexism, etc.   It doesn’t mean that can’t be problems, of course. It’s just casts doubt on this being a legitimate “movement” within the company.  
    elijahgh2p
  • Reply 10 of 28
    Weird -- but predictable -- how the revolution always ultimately comes for its own.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,114member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself. Apple is probably one of the most progressive employers in the world. The notion that there is some massive problem in gender and racial equity doesn’t even pass the smell test. 
    Even the most progressive employer in the world has progress to make.  "Progressive" isn't a binary switch that you flip on, it's an ongoing journey.  What you describe as "the left eating itself" is progress in action, self-challenging and self-correcting.
    I agree about progressive not being binary.  What I’m saying is Apple is well-known for embracing “the journey.”
    Not trying to start a fight, but are they?  Until fairly recently I don't remember Apple being particularly outspoken about gender or race issues?  In my mind it's liberal arts that they've always been committed to, which might seem like a lefty artsy fartsy thing, but it isn't really aligned all that with progressivism.  They've had a longer standing stance on environmental issues and removing toxic materials from their products, but aside from the occasional inspirational message posted on their webpage on Martin Luther King Day, race and gender aren't things I remember them talking about much, at least publicly.

    I don't find it difficult to believe that a tech company largely forged in the 1980s would still have particular dynamics entrenched that favour certain races and genders.  That's what systemic racism and sexism means, it's rarely the existence of policies that outright deliberately discriminate, it's in everyday practices that disadvantage certain groups by not having diversity of thought behind them.  Inflexible hours, lack of affordance of religious holidays, favouring and rewarding certain cultural traits like outspokenness instead of reserve, social environments that exclude the diverse and include the monoculture.  These are things that can be hard to change both because they're difficult and because they're tied up with a company's business model and ways of working.

    The idea that Apple has this right on across their entire business seems very unlikely.  I'm not saying that to be critical, Apple may well be among the better corporations at this sort of thing, but even the fact that they're among the better ones doesn't mean that frank discussions should not be had.  Everyone can be better, and it's nice to see Apple taking this seriously and setting an example for others.
    edited September 18 roundaboutnow
  • Reply 12 of 28
    bwikbwik Posts: 564member
    I for one am glad that my pay is based on my contribution to the organization.  It's not based on my race.  To base pay on race alone is abhorrent.
    JanNL
  • Reply 13 of 28
    As a customer and shareholder, I would prefer Apple announce it is pulling all non retail operations from Texas as soon as possible until they stop suppressing the voting and health rights of its people. 
    Plenty of better places to do business. 
    ronnAlex_V
  • Reply 14 of 28
    sdw2001 said:
    Not to make this expressly political per se, but this is what happens. The left eats itself.
    Don't pillory the left. You have seen what Republicans have done to their moderates, right?

    crowleyelijahgroundaboutnowAlex_V
  • Reply 15 of 28
    Apple needs to stay out of politics. 

    If Texas wants to outlaw killing babies, that’s fine. States have governing authority. 

    If texas wants to ensure election integrity to secure that my voice is actually my voice and that it is heard, then that’s great! It’s so strange how the left wants me to not be able to travel without my medical history on my passport ID. But they want to push for me to vote without proving who I am via ID. Unbelievable.

    Apple just needs to worry about making the best products and taking care of their workers. Stay out of politics and moral issues that you may be on the wrong side about. 

    If they want to pull out of Texas over a moral difference but stay in China despite gross human rights abuse and spying, then hey, go ahead snd show your true colors. 
    edited September 18 JanNL
  • Reply 16 of 28
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,052member
    Weird -- but predictable -- how the revolution always ultimately comes for its own.
    Robespierre will have your head for that!
  • Reply 17 of 28
    genovelle said:
    Pay is subjective at best. Gender gaps can exist for a number or reasons that are not discriminatory. Would it be fair to pay one woman with no outside obligations to limit her availability for professional development and who invests more of her time on projects for the company the same as someone who can only do the bare minimum? It even that. 

    That is the beauty of sales positions. They a general performance based pay and you pay your own way. While unfortunately favorites might get perks like being handed manager referrals, You make your own path via your actions. Want more money, do more work. 
    Will you listen to yourself?  If it's a gender gap, it's discriminatory--because of gender.
  • Reply 18 of 28
    Apple needs to stay out of politics. 

    If Texas wants to outlaw killing babies, that’s fine. States have governing authority. 

    No state has authority that's not already outlined at the federal level.  Read your damned Constitution.
    ronn
  • Reply 19 of 28
    Weird -- but predictable -- how the revolution always ultimately comes for its own.
    Well, to be fair, the carrion eaters come out when they think they smell decay, and you're circling. So are you smugly predicting or are you making it happen?
    dewme
  • Reply 20 of 28
    bwikbwik Posts: 564member
    genovelle said:
    Pay is subjective at best. Gender gaps can exist for a number or reasons that are not discriminatory. Would it be fair to pay one woman with no outside obligations to limit her availability for professional development and who invests more of her time on projects for the company the same as someone who can only do the bare minimum? It even that. 

    That is the beauty of sales positions. They a general performance based pay and you pay your own way. While unfortunately favorites might get perks like being handed manager referrals, You make your own path via your actions. Want more money, do more work. 
    Will you listen to yourself?  If it's a gender gap, it's discriminatory--because of gender.
    No, discrimination is one of dozens of variables that should be analyzed statistically in order to determine the cause of the gap.  Tenure, education, performance are a few ideas to get you started.

    A gender gap does not imply any particular discrimination.  In fact, discrimination may be going either way.  It is possible the gap should be larger.
    elijahg
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