Apple Inc. made headlines recently for selling $12 billion of its debt to investors eager to get a piece of Steve Jobs’ legacy. The sale follows a similar transaction from April 2013 worth $17 billion. Sources close to the deal say that there were no minorities involved, either as purchases of debt or among the professionals – accountants, lawyers, or investment analysts – associated with this latest sale.
With a stock-market value of $512 billion, Apple is considered the most valuable firm in the United States. And yet, though African Americans, Hispanics, and women are among the most avid users of wireless technologies and mobile devices, Apple consistently refuses to look to women and minorities as more than consumers.
In recent years, Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity has been called out by media, civil rights advocates, and business leaders alike. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent census data, but hold only a fraction of positions in the Valley. Roughly 1 in 14 tech workers is Black or Hispanic. Women have an even lower rate of participation.
CNN Money recently probed 20 U.S. tech firms and received feedback from five companies about their diversity profile. Notably, Apple and Google were among those that successfully petitioned to have their Employer Information Reports kept confidential. The results were rather grim, but reflected a disheartening trend – companies in the Valley are not taking advantage of opportunities to diversify their ranks. Google has since released its diversity results, and Blacks and Hispanics comprise less than 5 percent of the company’s workforce.
In late March, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. took Silicon Valley to task for its systemic failure to pave the way for greater participation by women and minorities throughout the tech sector. “Technology is supposed to be about inclusion, but sadly, patterns of exclusion remain the order of the day,” he said. “When it comes to African Americans on Boards – ZERO. C-Suites, ZERO. Minority firms in IPO’s and financial transactions, advertising and professional services – ZERO. These ZEROES are contrary to the enlightened values expressed by the industry. Rainbow PUSH is seeking meetings with tech leaders to address these ZEROES head on.”
The Rainbow PUSH report, Minority Inclusion in Debt Capital Markets: A Ranking of Corporate Issuers, revealed that iconic technology firms Google, Apple, HP, and Oracle all ranked at the very bottom of the survey, Tier 5, for lack of inclusion of minority firms in debt offerings
Google used just one minority firm is its three recent debt offerings; HP did not include any minority firms in 20 of its debt offerings; and Apple did not include any minority firms in its last 6 debt offerings; including it’s latest $17 billion and $12 billion deals.
Apple was also pinged by major shareholders earlier this year for a long-standing failure to diversify its board membership. In response, Apple added language to its Nominating and Corporate Governance Charter to add more women and minorities to the pool of talent it considers for board inclusion. Currently, Andrea Jung, an Asian woman, is the only minority on the board, which consists of seven white men over the age of fifty.
According to Rev. Jackson, “Silicon Valley and the tech industry must transform itself to mirror the America it depends upon for talent and customers.”
Amid cries that tech companies diversify opportunities, there are rumblings that civil rights groups across the country are planning boycotts if the Valley fails to get up to snuff on meaningful inclusivity efforts.
Apple may be known for sleek gadgets and innovative product offerings, but this latest snub toward would-be minority investors in helping solidify the firm’s reputation as a white-washed member of the technology Good Old Boys Club.