Leaked emails slam Apple's "toxic" culture

by Miklos Bolza21 Sep 2016
“I have witnessed the complete and utter disenfranchising of the voices of men and women of colour, and the fault lies not only in the direct management staff but in the response of those tasked with protecting employee rights.”
 
This quote was taken from one out of a series of emails leaked to media firm Mic, allegedly from current and former employees of Apple.
 
The emails were said to contain examples of discrimination and sexual harassment by staff employed by the tech giant.
 
“I do not feel safe at a company that tolerates individuals who make rape jokes,” one current employee said. “I feel *incredibly* unsafe at Apple now. I have tried to escalate to my manager several times that the culture was toxic, yet nothing has appeared to change.”

The specific instance the author was referring to was an online chat between colleagues talking about the "Bed Intruder" song that went viral in 2010.
 
Mic also reported on other alleged discriminatory behaviour conducted by staff at Apple found in the leaked emails.

“The conversation turned to all of the men being dismissive about their wives and their significant others,” a former staff member said. “I felt very uncomfortable of the reality that I was the only woman in the room as all of my male co-workers stereotyped women as nags and this was not countered by my manager as being inappropriate.”
 
Another recounted a job interview in which she claimed the interviewer opened by asking, “You're not technical, are you?”
 
“If he were familiar with my actual work, he could not in good conscience say such a thing,” she wrote. “My response to his condescension was to discuss advanced learning theory and the use of metaphor and semiotics along with the theoretical foundations of design patterns.”
 
She never got the job.
 
Some emails sent to Mic were written by men within the company. One former staff member said he sent a complaint of sexual harassment to multiple people at Apple, including CEO Tim Cook.
 
“Why I felt I would be retaliated against was the fact that I would consistently be referred to as an emotional man that resembled having the qualities of a woman,” he said. “Any male can tell you that being referred to as a woman is an insinuation that you are not strong enough or stable enough to handle the difficulties of life or work in the way a man can.”
 
Apple responded to the claims in an interview with Recode, a tech news publication under the Vox Media brand.
 
“We take these things not just seriously, but personally,” said Apple’s HR chief Denise Young Smith. “I have been grieved over this ... that someone may have had this kind of an experience.”
 
She noted that “commensurate actions” had been taken although she declined to give details of exactly what this entailed due to privacy concerns.
 
In a workforce that is 32% female, Young Smith said she hoped to develop a culture where people could call each other out.
 
“I don’t think people are too shy about doing it,” she said, “but I am also very cognisant that we are still 70/30 in our very hard-core engineering team. We have to be cognisant that someone may not feel that their voice is heard or valued.”
 
She admitted that the leaked emails may have led to people being afraid of speaking up about discrimination in Apple.
 
“The unfortunate consequence of this is that we may have lost the trust of others.”
 
Related stories:
 
Racist video sparks world-wide retraining at Apple
 
Lawsuit claims Apple ‘treats employees as criminals’
 
How one bad manager tried to crush Apple’s employer branding

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