Apple’s vice president of diversity and inclusion is leaving the company at the end of the year after assuming the role in May. Denise Young Smith has been at Apple since 1997 and most recently served as human resources chief; the abrupt announcement just six months after she took on the diversity chief role came as a surprise.
Wasn’t there some controversy about her earlier?
Yes. Young Smith was under fire last month after she made comments on diversity and inclusion that were viewed as controversial, and she has since apologized for her “choice of words.”
What did she say?
As part of a much larger discussion about diversity in the workplace, Young Smith said that diversity of thought and experience is valuable regardless of your gender or racial background.
“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color or the women or the LGBT or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around…because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads.
“And I’ve often told people a story– there can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”
Is her departure related to the diversity comments?
Hard to say. Young Smith has reportedly been in talks about her future at Apple for a year, so she may have made up her mind to leave long before the backlash. Still, as Doc pointed out while standing in for Glenn on today’s show, it’s ironic that a black woman is stepping down as diversity chief after “controversial” comments and being replaced by a white woman.
Just 3 percent of Apple’s leaders in the U.S. are black, according to TechCrunch.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thurgood Marshall College Fund
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
DOC: Some of this stuff deserves to be mocked. Because that’s the only way it will be changed. Satire. Sarcasm. And mocking something this ridiculous. I’m not just talking about mocking people you disagree with. Although, if you want to do that, that’s fine as well. I think it’s nice to be able to engage in a civil conversation and try to find common ground, which we try to do, but when it’s this silly, you deserve to be mocked for change.
The way you’re going to change this is to mock people like this, to point out how ridiculous it is through humor.
That’s the only way it’s going to change. How many people on the left are calling this guy out? When they read it, even if it’s crazy and they know it’s crazy, are they going to be like, dude, come on? They’re not.
KAL: Even there, they’re like, you’re stretching it a bit. You’re reaching.
DOC: Right. In their heart of hearts, they know it is.
But they don’t say it. It’s either one of two things, they look the other way because he’s on the team, or they know it’s going to help push the agenda. By any means necessary. The end justifies the means.
And then some of them are likely crazy and believe it as well. But most people know it’s ridiculous. That whites somehow have greater access to outdoors.
KAL: That’s so ridiculous.
DOC: It’s insane. So mock it. Share it. And it should be. A lot of people online mocking as well.
If you want to follow me on Twitter. It’s @DocThompsonshow. Use the #whatIlearnedtoday. You can join the program. We have some calls coming up. It’s 888-727-BECK. 888-727-BECK.
We’ll get some calls in a couple of minutes. Denise Young — Denise Young Smith, rather, was named Apple’s VP of diversity and inclusion in May. Remember that?
KAL: Oh, that’s good. Yeah.
DOC: Remember the big discussion we had in May because of the letter that was written? Remember the former CEO of Facebook, or executive at Facebook, or person who worked at Facebook — we had that whole discussion.
DOC: And then at Apple, they had this brouhaha. Anyway, they appointed her as the VP of diversity and inclusion in May. She’s stepping down.
KAL: That’s only been, what? Like six months?
DOC: Denise Young Smith —
KAL: A little less?
DOC: Yeah. Not even. Yep. Stepping down because of something she said.
KAL: Oh, boy. What did she say? Was it allowed outdoors?
DOC: During a summit in Columbia, she said — now, she is a black woman, mind you.
DOC: Apple’s VP of diversity and inclusion. Apple’s VP of diversity and inclusion said she likes to focus on everyone, and that diversity goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation. She said, there can be twelve white blue-eyed, blonde men in a room, and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring different life experience and life perspectives to the conversation.
KAL: Good. I like that.
DOC: She’s right.
KAL: Yeah, she is. She got fired for that?
She is stepping down.
KAL: Which means she was asked to step down?
DOC: She was fired. That’s likely what was meant. She said, diversity is a human experience. She said, I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to people of color or women or LGBT. She said, we’re not representative have how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. Those were her later apologies, that’s when she later apologized.
She said, we’re not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. She was forced to apologize. And for what? She basically said —
KAL: Don’t judge a book by its cover?
DOC: Well, she said something that I said over and over again: Your claim and maybe accurate claim that you have it worse off because of, fill in the blank. Your race, your gender, your religion. Even if it’s true that you are either disadvantaged because of your race — you walk in, there’s more white people. Maybe there’s a bias. Even if it’s an underlying subconscious bias, fine. Let’s go with it and say that you are at a disadvantage. There are many ways to advantage or disadvantage people. And, you know what, very few of them have to do with race. There are more ways that you can disadvantage people that have nothing to do with race or religion or gender. Economic situation.
And that could be all kinds of different things. You know what else disadvantages people? Stupidity. You’re just dumb. You think you’re going to get that job as the CEO if you’re dumb?
KAL: Probably not.
DOC: No, of course not. Let’s say you’re average intelligence, but you don’t have any common sense. Okay. That may actually help you, based on the bosses that I’ve had. How about fat?
DOC: How about fat? You’re going to be seen the same way when you’re fat?
DOC: Of course not. Let’s say if you’re fat with less control of it than other people. Some people, myself, you’re fat because you’re a little bit lazy, you’re eating too much. You know, whatever. You’re not taking care of yourself. You’re not doing the hard work. Your metabolism slows a little when you get older. Fine. There are a lot of people though that are fat because of underlying circumstances. They also just generally have a slower metabolism. It’s more difficult for them.
All things being equal, guy walks in the room who is thin, guy walks in the room who is fat, who is getting the job?
KAL: The thin guy.
DOC: How about ugly? Ugly.
KAL: Oh, yeah. You can’t control that.
DOC: You cannot control ugly. And guess what, it’s going to advantage you if you’re pretty.
DOC: All things being equal, good-looking guy walks in the room, bad-looking guy walks in the room. Who is getting the job? The good-looking guy. Right? All things being equal. Good-looking woman walks in the job. Ugly woman walks in the job. Who is getting it?
DOC: No. The one with the large breasts. That’s usually how it goes.
No. Seriously, but that matters too. Even if it’s subconscious. We like certain things. Individuals, you’re constantly making millions of calculations all the time.
Every time, sizing everything up, in every situation. On levels you don’t even know about. And you are attracted to things that are attractive to you. You are drawn to things that are like you. Things that you appreciate.
And that’s okay. It’s human nature. It’s not to say, well, welcome in, Bill, can’t give you the job because you’re black. Have a good day. I’m not justifying that. That’s wrong. I’m saying that you can’t control some of this. And, by the way, that’s not just to say that white people are saying it. It happens with every race. Right?
You’re an Asian guy and you’re doing some hiring, you’re going to have some biases, based on your race. But then, beyond race, religion, and gender, there are other ways you could be disadvantaged or disadvantaged.
I grew up near Cleveland, Ohio. How do you think that helped me out? Versus the guy who grew up in Malibu or Florida or whatever. A lot of places — is it a small advantage or disadvantage?
Sure. But still, those things matter. Who is more interesting at the party? Right?
The guy who was from Key West, the guy who was from Manhattan, or the guy from Cleveland.
KAL: Hey. It’s all about life experiences.
DOC: Well, these things all add up who you are and what you present. Another thing, your name. And I’m not talking about ethnic names which, by the way, those biased people as well. They’ve done studies where if you have certain ethnic names, it could bias you or whatever. But really bizarre, goofy, bad, whatever name, versus seemingly more traditional name.
There are countless ways you’re advantaged or disadvantaged.
And yet, these Black Lives Matter groups, the people who constantly tell you that they’re getting the worse deal. Meanwhile, they live in America, in 2017, where it is impossible to starve.
DOC: The only way you’re starving is if you are simply — if you’re not willing to pick up the food and put it in your mouth. And sometimes, we even put it in your mouth for you.
Seriously, there’s food everywhere. We throw out better food than some people eat on a regular basis.
KAL: Oh, absolutely.
DOC: This is just how it is. There’s food banks everywhere. There’s welfare. There’s like 16 federal government plans to give you money and food.
You live in America in 2017. It’s impossible to starve. You’ve got protections like nowhere else. America, the most diverse country on the planet, to check out that last Olympics.
DOC: In walks the Chinese team. How many white people do they have on it?
DOC: All righty then. That team from Mexico, how many black people and Asian people do they have on it?
DOC: No. Probably not a whole lot. You see the American team. Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics.
KAL: Yep. All kinds.
DOC: We are the most diverse country. And yet we let people lie to us and promote the fact that we need help with diversity. Screw that. The rest of the world needs help with diversity. If it matters so much. How come you’re not bitching about China for not having more non-Asian people? Because they’re Chinese. It’s who they are. It’s different. And it’s acceptable.
KAL: That’s a great point. I wonder if the rhetoric in these other countries is the same as it is here, about diversity.
DOC: The Chinese people going, you know, it’s all these Asian people. I don’t get it.
KAL: But, I mean, are there different levels of Chinese?
DOC: Of course. There’s classes. There’s regions. There’s classes.
KAL: But do they cry for equality in the same way —
DOC: It’s more economic. See, but we have allowed people to tie economic inequality to racial inequality. And they’ll use it back and forth, whatever benefits them. So when Denise Young Smith, the former now VP of Apple, heading up diversity inclusion says that diversity goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation, she’s right.
What we have allowed people to do is walk into a room, see white people, and say, “It’s not diverse.”
DOC: No, it may be. You could have all black people, and it could be diverse. It’s all about life experiences, what you bring to the table. All of these things that aren’t easily measurable. But they want to look, ironically, at the color of a person’s skin and size up the situation.
KAL: It’s incredibly racist, ironically.
DOC: It is incredibly racist. Stop. Knock it off. There’s no way you will ever get to true diversification in all things. Okay. We have picked these 14 people to head up our whatever department and we’ve got exactly the same number of people from this region of the country and this person who is this weight. And this person who is this height. How about height? You don’t think the tall guy is going to get the job? Of course he will. So we got to make sure we have proportionate people that are short, middle, tall, whatever. There’s no way to go down the list and check every box and make sure it’s even across-the-board.
How about this? We start judging people on their character.
Not if they’re from Cleveland. Or short. Or fat. Or rich. Or white. How about the content of their character?
KAL: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
DOC: It’s crazy, I know.
KAL: Crazy. Step it back some.