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Tim Cook says Apple has 'a lot more work' to do on diversity

Apple has released its second diversity report, showing small improvements in its hiring of women and minorities. Apple's overall makeup has swayed by 1 percent in the past year, so that women now make up 31 percent of the company. There was also a small increase in the representation of black and Asian employees in the US, who now make up 8 percent and 18 percent of the company, respectively. "We are proud of the progress we’ve made, and our commitment to diversity is unwavering," Apple CEO Tim Cook writes. "But we know there is a lot more work to be done."

"The largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups."

It's not surprising that, in a huge company like Apple, the overall makeup would only shift slightly from year to year — there are just too many total employees for new hires to make a dramatic difference. But Apple's hiring rates appear to be improving. Cook says that it hired 65 percent more women during the past year than it did the year before that (for a total of 11,000 globally). It hired 50 percent more black employees in the US (2,200) and 66 percent more Hispanic employees in the US (2,700). "In total, this represents the largest group of employees we’ve ever hired from underrepresented groups in a single year," Cook writes.

apple 2015 diversity

What matters more is how those figures reflect Apple's actual hiring rates. Globally, 35 percent of Apple's new hires over the past year were women; in the US, 19 percent were Asian, 13 percent were Hispanic, and 11 percent were black. Apple doesn't state what those figures were at last year, but it's likely that they've grown. Overall, white employees still make up the bulk of the company — at 54 percent — and have an even higher representation in both corporate and retail leadership; same goes for men.

The fact that tech companies are releasing this data is making Silicon Valley's gender and ethnicity imbalance much more apparent. Now that most of the big tech companies have released at least two years of reports, we can get a much better sense of whether they're actually addressing it. To help, Apple says that it's expanding its recruiting efforts, supporting funds that help students at historically black colleges, and bringing its tech to disadvantaged schools and communities. It may take a while to really balance out the entire company's makeup, but publishing hiring rates and overall figures make it clear how quickly Apple is moving there.