At Apple’s shareholder meeting in March, Rev. Jesse Jackson appealed to Tim Cook and his team to re-double their commitment to diversity and inclusion by bringing qualified women and people of color on to their Board of Directors.
Recently, Apple did just that, as they announced the appointment of the first African American ever to sit on their board, James Bell. Tim Cook the entire Apple team – are to be commended, and their proven commitment to minority inclusion on their Board should encourage other companies in Silicon Valley to follow suit, according to Jackson.
In a previous move, Apple elevated two African Americans – Lisa Jackson (former EPA chief) and Denise Young-Smith to their C-suite, and they have made steady progress – such as Apple’s landmark $40M grant to the Thurgood Marshall Fund to expand African American participation at the HBCU’s and in STEM fields, and their partnership with Code2040.
“We are delighted but not surprised,” Jackson said.
“Tim Cook has made a wise choice. James Bell is eminently qualified. He has the capacity to serve; he has the experience of running one of the largest companies in the world, Boeing. Our contention has always been that there is no talent deficit, but an opportunity deficit.
“Companies said ‘they can’t find them’. They can’t if they don’t look, or if they look in the wrong places. There is a “right now, shovel ready” pipeline of talent – they can be found, and there are others like James Bell and Stacy Brown Philpot qualified and able to serve. ”
The “march for diversity” is pushing forward. Last month, HP’s groundbreaking announcement that it would appoint two African Americans to each of the Boards of its two new companies, HP-E (enterprise) and HP (consumer) as they separate in November.
While much focus has been placed at the lack of diversity in the tech workforce, diversity and inclusion must start in the boardrooms and c-suites.
Rainbow PUSH’s research last year showed that there were just three (3) African Americans out of 189 total board members of the 20 companies studied. Since our PUSH, eight (8) African Americans have been appointed to the boards of Silicon Valley tech companies.
Apple’s move is good news. HP’s move is good news. They are setting the pace and the rest of the industry must now follow suit.