Jesse Jackson Meets With Apple’s Tim Cook to Discuss Lack of Diversity in Silicon Valley

Apple fans wait for the opening of the first Apple Store in mainland China at Joy City on Feb. 7 in Tianjin, China. (PHOTO CREDIT: ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)
Apple fans wait for the opening of the first Apple Store in mainland China at Joy City on Feb. 7 in Tianjin, China. (PHOTO CREDIT: ChinaFotoPress, Getty Images)

The stark lack of diversity in Silicon Valley was on the agenda at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting here Tuesday.

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the Rev. Jesse Jackson the floor before taking questions from investors, one of whom pressed the technology giant to more forcibly publicize its moves to diversify its board of directors and executive team.

“We urge you to put more people of color in top management … and look like America,” Jackson said in a statement during the 75-minute meeting.

Cook readily agreed. “Our diversity is increasing … and I want it to be better — it will get better,” Cook said. “This does not happen overnight. The recruiting process takes time. But rest assured: We get it.”

In an interview with USA TODAY before his remarks, Jackson offered words of praise for Apple, which is donating more than $50 million to non-profit organizations to increase the ranks of women and minorities in Silicon Valley and the tech industry, dominated by white and Asian men.

As racial tensions mount across the country, “This represents the best about America with all the news that is so painful,” Jackson told USA TODAY. “This grant is a big deal.”

With its donation, Apple will support the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Center for Women and Information Technology to help more women, minorities and veterans find work in tech.

“The fund is not a cost to the company but value added,” said Jackson, who vowed to continue to push tech firms to diversify their predominantly white male boards of directors.

Jackson has met with Cook and other tech leaders in a year-long mission to get them to devote substantial resources to reversing the historic pattern of exclusion in Silicon Valley.

Intel said in January that it would spend $300 million on increasing diversity.

Jackson addressed the need for more action at the shareholder meeting, where the audience loudly applauded him.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: USA Today, Jon Swartz

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