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CWA report highlights disproportionate hiring and promotion outcomes for Black and Hispanic Apple workers versus white workers

CWA released a new report that highlighted issues of racial inequity experienced by Apple retail workers. Retail workers represent nearly 40 percent of Apple’s entire workforce. Apple’s website on inclusion and diversity highlights key metrics Apple is using to track its “progress toward a more inclusive workforce.” The report found that these self-congratulatory claims by the company obscure the fact that the hiring of Black and Hispanic workers since 2014 has mostly been into the lower paid roles at the company. The report makes clear that workers need a collective bargaining agreement with Apple to ensure every worker has clear advancement opportunities and thus, equitable pay and benefits. The report combined data from worker surveys and interviews, company disclosures, news reports, and other sources to evaluate Apple’s conduct and found: 

  • Apple has failed to translate its increasingly diverse Retail workforce into an equally diverse Retail Leadership.
  • Since 2014, Apple has failed to achieve year over year increases in Black and Hispanic representation at the “Executive/Sr Officials & Mgrs”, “First/Mid Officials & Mgrs”, and “Professionals” levels of the company. 
  • Black Female representation at the “Executive/Sr Officials & Mgrs” level was actually worse in 2021 than it was in 2014 and Hispanic Female representation has remained consistent year over year at an embarrassing 0%. 
  • In contrast, Apple has been successful year over year in increasing Black and Hispanic representation in its sales workforce, which are among the lowest paid roles in the company. 
  • While the number of Black workers at Apple has increased by 70.1% since 2014, 85.6% of those jobs have been in either Sales or Admin Support. The number of Hispanic workers at Apple has increased by 93.1% since 2014 with 60.8% of those jobs being in either Sales or Admin Support. 
  • Racial disparity at Apple is crystallized when the same data reveals that 187.2% of the job growth for white workers between 2014 and 2021 has been in the “First/Mid Officials & Managers” and “Professionals” job categories.

According to its EEO-1 data between 2014 and 2021, the majority of Black and Hispanic workers hired at Apple were hired into Sales or Admin support roles, among the lowest paid roles at the company. Additionally, Apple’s own internal data demonstrates that the company has failed to translate its increasingly diverse retail workforce into an equally diverse retail leadership. Interviewed workers expressed difficulty navigating Apple’s career advancement track. Unionized Apple retail workers in Oklahoma City began negotiating their first contract with a focus on improving transparency in hiring and pay raises and are pushing for constructive engagement with the company.  

“Right now, the parameters for advancement at Apple are unclear. You can apply for a job you are qualified for on paper, but get turned down due to internal metrics that we have no insight into. We then aren’t given guidance on what we need to do to meet the bar for promotion. We want to make Apple a place where we can all make a sustainable living and build our career and for that reason we are fighting for transparency on hiring, promotions, and pay raises,” said Charity Lassiter, Technical Expert and member of the Apple Retail Union-CWA. 

Unionization is a proven mechanism by which Black and Hispanic workers can achieve pay parity and equitable access to key leadership roles. Yet, Apple consistently chooses to deny workers their right to organize. Various Apple work, handbook, and confidentiality rules tend to interfere with or prevent employees from exercising their rights to organize. Additionally, Apple executives have made statements that violated the National Labor Relations Act and Apple has held anti-union meetings wherein management made coercive statements. In response, workers organizing as the Apple Retail Workers Union, have submitted Unfair Labor Practices charges against Apple at stores in Atlanta, New York, Oklahoma City, Houston and Kansas City. 

Shareholders are also raising concerns regarding Apple’s behavior as investors have called on the company to participate in third party Civil Rights Audit and Labor Practice Audit. Apple has agreed to both audits but there is more the company can do to establish an equitable workplace. 

“In a complete disregard of the company’s own values, Apple’s top executives have proven to be committed union-busters who refuse to allow workers to freely organize. Instead, the company touts its diversity numbers while ignoring the fact that most of its Black and Hispanic hires are concentrated in the lowest paying jobs at the company. That is not economic justice, that is not racial justice. A union voice and a collective bargaining agreement are proven tools that workers can use to bring greater equity to their workplaces. Apple must end its union-busting campaign and respect its workers’ right to organize,” said Communications Workers of America Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. 

In response to the report findings, workers alongside CWA are demanding: 

  • Enact a true policy of neutrality toward union organizing efforts. Instead of forcing store managers to recite anti-union talking points, Apple should train managers to leave the conversation about joining a union to the workers themselves. 
  • Discontinue its relationship with anti-union labor firm Littler Mendelson or any other anti-union law firms, consultants, etc.
  • Improve its Commitment to Human Rights policy by including the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining language that is already present in its Supplier Code of Conduct.


Report: Misleading metrics: The truth behind Apple's diversity data (CWA, May 2023)

Apple Retail Union-CWA in Oklahoma City begins contract negotiations with Apple (SpeedMatters, May 30, 2023)

Apple retail still has a diversity problem, union says (Tech Crunch, May 18, 2023)