Every leader in DEI has a story – about how they got into this work, and about the sense of purpose that drives them. And throughout my journey, what’s never left me is my background as an engineer. It’s why I’m so focused on analyzing problems, finding solutions, and measuring progress along the way.

When we apply that framework to DEI, so many possibilities open up. We can think boldly, identify clear goals, enlist teams to help us, and hold ourselves accountable to meaningful progress. So when I’m facing a problem that must be solved, the checklist in my head is simple – plan, do, check, act.

That’s the engineer’s mantra, and it’s how I approach my work in DEI. But it’s not the why. My why is that I believe the next generation – my children’s generation – is counting on us to do this work. When they ask how we responded to the toughest challenges, I want to hold my head up high and answer: we met them with grace, with purpose, and with determination.

To get there, DEI leaders like us have to be great systems thinkers. We have to understand every stage of this work – from recruitment, to training and development, to the accountability metrics that drive action. So I want to spend a bit of time sharing what I’ve learned about each of those principles, and how we’re putting them into practice at Apple.

Bringing people in

One of the common refrains in our line of work is that finding talented, diverse candidates is hard to do. I’ve always felt, though, that if we’re not finding the right people, we’re not looking hard enough.

We take a multifaceted approach to this work at Apple. For one thing, we require a diverse slate of candidates to be considered for every role – and a diverse slate of interviewers to talk to them.

We also try to go where the talent is, and to expand the pipeline so that we invest in the next generation of diverse leaders. That means partnering with Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Indigenous-led organizations to connect the students and young people there with new opportunities.

A great example is our New Silicon Initiative. It’s a program we started as part of our Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, and it connects Apple experts with engineering students at HBCUs. Some may go on to work at Apple, and others may find new opportunities. Regardless, it means we can reach populations that – today, and for much of our history – face systemic barriers to opportunity. And we can do it in one of the most cutting-edge, innovative fields there is.

Driving progress

Recruiting diverse candidates is an important driver of our work as DEI leaders. But it’s not enough. Building an inclusive culture means working continuously, at every level of our organizations, to invest in our teams – and to hold ourselves accountable to real progress.

That can start with trainings on unconscious bias, intersectionality, and other topics crucial to creating an inclusive workplace. Even as someone who’s worked in DEI for a long time, I’m still doing my homework on how I can be an even better ally to my colleagues, and relate to everyone’s identities and experiences with empathy.

At Apple, we require inclusivity trainings. With programs like Apple University, we also create pathways for people to grow in their roles, and to think critically about the inclusive environment we can build together. That said, learning without action doesn’t serve anyone – which is why accountability is such an important part of this picture.

Here at Apple, we’ve built inclusion and diversity into every stage of our processes – including performance reviews at every level of our company. Those have real impact, and they shape everything from promotions to executive pay. We also look at predictive indicators to see how we’re doing as a company, like the proportion of diverse candidates we’re hiring in leadership positions.

Accountability is important to driving progress, and it’s important to driving scale. Integrating DEI into how we evaluate a leader’s performance – whether you manage one person, or one hundred – means we can bring everyone into this work.

So when I’m facing

a problem that

must be solved, the

checklist in my head

is simple—plan, do,

check, act.

-Barbara Whye

Sharing the road

As DEI leaders, we’re in position to drive progress, scale solutions, and help all our teams – from recruitment, to HR, to management – keep rowing in the same direction.

But DEI can’t just happen in DEI spaces. To be successful, everyone in our organizations has to drive progress forward. We have to make everyone a part of our mission.

At Apple, one way we bring our people into this work is with action plans for every part of the company. As an engineer at heart, I’m particularly passionate about making sure those plans are data-driven. That means identifying clear metrics and tracking our progress. It means analyzing what’s working, and having the self-honesty to admit what’s not.

It also means putting people at the center of everything we do. We know a thing or two about human-centric design at Apple, because it shapes the technology we work on every day. It helps us make products that are intuitive and accessible to all people, and inspires so many groundbreaking innovations.

Human-centric design is also a driving force behind our work in DEI. We’re thinking about people when we set new goals, when we share lessons learned, and when we create resources to help leaders talk to their teams about the most challenging issues of the day.

This work can be challenging at times – but it’s that focus on people that keeps my tank full. I think a lot of DEI leaders feel the same way. The work we do is about understanding and empathizing with others, so we can help create inclusive spaces where everyone feels supported and empowered.

Over the past few years, we’ve experienced and beared witness to so many injustices – from the murder of George Floyd to AAPI hate, to anti-LGBTQ legislation, and many more painful events.

In DEI, it’s easy for our work to be consumed by profoundly challenging moments like those. Navigating them is part of our job. But sometimes, it can feel like a treadmill you can never get off.

So my parting advice, to anyone who shares in this work, is to build in time to replenish and to refresh – whatever that looks like for you. I draw strength from my family, and from an incredible network of friends and colleagues I respect and admire.

In other words, remember that self-care is not selfish. It has to be a priority. And when we make time to treat ourselves with grace, we’re not just better at our jobs – we model behavior that helps create an uplifting, positive, and productive environment for the people around us.

To all my partners in DEI – thank you for the work you do every day.

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