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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 16:37

Apple and JB Hi-Fi admit to gender diversity problems Featured

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Apple and JB Hi-Fi have become the latest tech-related companies to release their workplace diversity reports, and both have admitted they're not doing well enough.

iTWire has been keeping its eye on workplaces in both Silicon Valley and in Australia - and the numbers aren't good. Like Twitter, Google and a slew of other tech companies, the majority of Apple's workers are white males, with women and minority ethnic groups making up only small slices of its global workforce.

In the US, 55% of Apple's workforce are white, while 15% identify as Asian and 11% identify as having Hispanic origin.

Blacks are the least represented demographic at just 7%.

In terms of gender Apple's not doing much better, but it is doing better than some others.

70% of Apple's workers globally are male and 30% are female, though in tech-related positions that number jumps to 80% male workers.

As for the tech giant's leadership positions, including store management, men account for 72% of positions.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did say there was some good news, adding that there were some  recent female additions he's made to the senior executive ranks, such as EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts.

He said his company is working on the problem.

"We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products," Cook wrote in the report.

"Inclusion and diversity have been a focus for me throughout my time at Apple, and they're among my top priorities as CEO."

Meanwhile Australian electronics JB Hi-Fi may have a lowest price guarantee but there's no guarantee it will hit its gender diversity targets, after the company revealed in its annual report earlier this week women accounted for just 4% of its senior management and executive positions.

The report blamed the fact that appartently male employees, particularly in regional areas and senior management ranks, are not moving on.

In 2014, about 39% of JB Hi-Fi’s employees were women, but women accounted for just 4% of its senior management and executive team (1 of 23), compared with 5% in 2013 and 9.5 per cent in 2012.

Only 21% of commissioned sales staff and only 10% of store managers were women and the company had no female store managers in regional areas.

The JB Hi-Fi board attempted to better balance its gender diversity in March 2012 with a new strategy, including developing systems to enable regular reporting and assessment of progress towards gender diversity objectives,a detailed review of employee pay to consider whether any gender based disparity existed, further development of part time and flexible work practices, with specific focus on return to work from maternity leave.

The company also moved to hire women in areas traditionally dominated by men including positions related to car sound sales, hi-fi sales, inventory planners, buyers, and IT,

It also implemented a reorganisation of the managerial structure within stores. But, two years later, JB Hi-Fi is struggling to achieve its targets.

“The board and the new chief executive recognise that the actions taken to date have not been as effective as intended in achieving the company’s gender diversity objectives,” JB Hi-Fi said on Monday in its annual accounts.

“The existence of stable senior and regional management teams, in the context of a historically male-dominated consumer electronics industry, has posed challenges for achieving change in the short-term,” the company said.

“The board and management, led by the new CEO, are therefore undertaking a thorough review of these gender diversity objectives and revisiting the plans for achieving them,” the report said.

Yesterday we reported on Go Girl Go for IT, an event aimed squarely at high school females encouraging them to taken on further study and employment relating to IT.

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