Why Is Apple’s Chief of Diversity Leaving After 6 Months?

What happened?

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.”

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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.