Diversity and Heresy

Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first vice president of inclusion and diversity, is resigning from her position after less than a year. Smith’s announcement follows the response to comments she made during a panel discussion in October. As reported by Quartz:

When asked whether she would be focusing on any group of people, such as black women, in her efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse Apple, Young Smith says, “I focus on everyone.” She added: “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.”

Young Smith went on to add that “there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”

For the heresy of viewing life experience as being as central to a diverse workforce as is race, sexual orientation or gender identity, Young Smith (at the very least) felt pressured to resign.

And Democrats wonder how it could be that so much of the white working class has abandoned the party of progressivism.


3 Comments for “Diversity and Heresy”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    And Democrats wonder how it could be that so much of the white working class has abandoned the party of progressivism.

    Are you saying that Democrats were responsible for Apple’s decision to replace Denise Young Smith with Christie Smith, an outside hire? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Are you saying that Young Smith was replaced because of her comments in Bogata? That doesn’t seem to comport with the facts:

    Young Smith had been talking with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the next phase of her career and life since about a year ago, according to a source. Over the last few months, Apple has been searching for a successor to replace Young Smith. It’s not quite clear, however, when exactly Young Smith decided she would leave Apple. But based on that timeline, it seems as though Young Smith made up her mind before those comments in Bogotá, Colombia for which she later apologized.

    It does make a good Alt-Right storyline, though, which is probably why it is being touted as an outrage on IGF.

    Sorry to be so cynical, Stephen, but you have a long track record.

  2. posted by Jorge on

    I love how the departing officer and her replacement have the same last names and the article mostly fails to explain which is which in the narrative.

    Reading both articles, It seems to me that Ms. Young Smith took her fellow panelist’s comments on white privilege as encouragement to go on a crusade elsewhere, out of a sincere belief that Apple does not need the work that is called for and she has thus outgrown her position.

    As for the apology, which Tom’s link has to link to, her apology is “I regret the choice of words I used to make this point”. I agree. While she nailed the rest of the argument (much as some really don’t seem to like the diversity of thought argument), a little more humility is called for when making the point that diversity is not just about “black, Hispanic, and LGBT”.

    The most obvious signs of diversity of experience are important barometers that you actually have it. But a room full of white, black, Hispanic, male, female, straight and LGBT police officers is still a room full of crap if all you care about is how to make them fit the Bull Connor mold. You’re not going to get diversity of experience that way. And you’re certainly not going to get the most you can get out of innovation.

    The reverse applies to a room full of white men.

    I used to be in a position in which the next four steps in my chain of command was a black/African American woman, and you could replace any of them and still have an excellent chance of not changing that. It’s probably not uncommon for me to be the only nonblack male in the room at work. Does that mean we’re not diverse? I have to say black/African American or some other qualifier because my office draws from all four major lineages: Northern, Southern, West Indian, and African.

    When you’re in that kind of situation, you have to rely on the hope that most of the staff, and those they interact with, have had enough experiences with diversity that they can relate credibly with just about any group. In my experience, that becomes much more reliable the closer you get to the top.

    • posted by Jorge on

      It’s probably not uncommon for me to be the only nonblack male in the room at work.

      I messed up on the negative. I mean to say the only person in the room who’s not a black female.

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