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Apple's US diversity barely improved last year

Federal filing contradicts figures for black and hispanic hires announced by Tim Cook in August

Apple's US workforce is slightly more diverse than it was last year, but the company remains overwhelmingly white and male, according to its latest EEO-1 Federal Employer Information report. The report, released over the weekend, shows that 30 percent of Apple's US employees are women, compared to 29 percent in its previous report. About 8.6 percent of its workforce is black, inching up from 8 percent in 2014, and 11.7 percent is hispanic or Latino, compared to 11.5 percent. Among executives, senior officials, and managers, nearly 83 percent are male, and 83.5 percent are white.

In August, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple hired 11,000 women between 2014 and 2015, marking a 65 percent increase over the previous year. In the US, Cook said Apple added more than 2,200 black employees and 2,700 hispanic workers, which contradicts the figures in its federal filing. According to the EEO-1, the company added just 1,475 black and 1,633 hispanic employees. An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The metric is flawed, but it's also useful

On its diversity page, Apple makes clear that the EEO-1 report is "not how we measure our progress. The EEO-1 has not kept pace with changes in industry or the American workforce over the past half century. We believe the information we report elsewhere on this site is a far more accurate reflection of our progress toward diversity."

The EEO-1 report may be an imperfect metric, but it does allow for comparisons of US workforces across companies. Our analysis of last year's EEO-1 filings from major tech companies showed that Apple employed a higher percentage of hispanics and Latinos in the US than other leading tech companies, while Facebook and Twitter had the highest percentage of women in leadership roles.

Ahead of its annual shareholders meeting in February, Apple's board of directors voted against a proposal to increase the diversity of its board and senior management, describing the measure as "unduly burdensome and not necessary" in a proxy statement filed earlier this month. The board pointed to its ongoing efforts to increase diversity, including a scholarship program for black students, a program that provides 114 underserved US schools with Apple products, and its sponsorship of the Grace Hopper conference for women in technology.