Apple’s Tim Cook— the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company— is leading the way for civil rights in America.
Or so the headlines say.
Cook came out in force last month to fight the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. Throwing around the mammoth weight of his company and rallying the support of tech titans everywhere, he and Apple pulled no punches. The LGBT movement had found its Goliath, and the opposition faltered.
Under such tremendous pressure, Indiana’s governor signed an amendment. This effectively rendered the law useless as a defense for persons refusing services that violate their religious beliefs, including services for gay weddings.
Arkansas’s governor quickly followed suit, amending a religious freedom law passed earlier in March.
And this isn’t new. Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill last year, in response to NFL threats that the Super Bowl would pull out of Arizona.
That’s a lot of power being wielded by unelected people. And I guess if you’re a gay man, you can take comfort that you have such a big stick protecting your interests.
Lesbians too, one might shout!
Except for one thing.
Lesbians are not only gay—they are women.
And Tim Cook is not nearly as proactive for that minority group as one might assume.
As a woman who fights— often against religious zealots of my own faith— for equal rights for women, I don’t make such assumptions. I have to ask the question:
Is he standing up for equality for all minorities?
Or is he just fighting for the rights of his own special interest: gay men?
In the Bible— which Cook implies he has some connection with due to his Baptist upbringing— it says that for a person to be a moral leader, he must manage his own house well.
So how does Tim Cook manage his own house?
Let’s take a look at Apple.
Apple and Misogyny
Apple came under fire last year by two of its major shareholders for discriminatory hiring practices. Specifically, it’s numbers were way out of line in the areas of race and gender.
The complaint was initially lodged because of the glaring lack of diversity in Apple’s leadership ranks. Specifically, the top executives at the time were all white males (hello.)
And out of the eight members on its board, only one was a woman. The other seven were— you guessed it— white males.
“There is a general problem with diversity at the highest echelon of Apple,” Jonas Kron, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium, told Bloomberg. “It’s all white men.”
It’s ironic that big bad Apple, supposedly blazing the way for human rights in Indiana last month, was strong-armed just last year into coming out with a most embarrassing report on the way it treats its minorities. Accompanying the report is a letter of contrition from Tim Cook, promising that Apple will do better in the future, weakly referring to programs that will teach girls and disadvantaged kids how to code.
Of course, Mr. Cook did not take such an impotent, maybe-someday-equality-will-happen approach in Indiana. He brought in the heavy artillery and blew down the doors.
But then again, it’s a lot easier to judge someone else’s house, isn’t it.
Here are the highlights of Apple’s diversity report:
- Though 12% of the U.S. labor force is black, black workers fill only 3-6% of Apple tech and leadership positions.
- Though 47% of the U.S. labor force is female, women fill only 20-28% of Apple’s tech and leadership positions.
Mercifully, the sting of this embarrassment was mitigated by one good report card.
Apple got a 100 rating— a perfect score— on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for 2015, for the stellar manner in which it treats its LGBT workers.
Well, at least someone’s happy.
Unfortunately, this minority group (LGBT) makes up less than 4% of the population (Williams Institute). In contrast, up to 51% of the population belong to minority groups that continue to be overlooked and discriminated against by Apple.
Also, the Corporate Equality Index measures non-discrimination policies and benefits for LGBT workers, but not actual hiring percentages.
So Apple may take good care of its lesbian worker— if she can get the job in the first place. But by the stats, she will find that significantly harder to do than a gay man— and nearly impossible to break into a top executive position.
She is still, after all, a woman.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, speaking with the Wall Street Journal last week, called Tim Cook out on this hypocrisy.
“When Tim Cook is upset about all the places that he does business because of the way they treat gays and women, he needs to withdraw from 90% of the markets that he’s in, including China and Saudi Arabia,” said the likely GOP Presidential hopeful, “But I don’t hear him being upset about that.”
Silicon Valley Boys’ Club
This same hypocrisy has been played out in the past year by many of the tech industry giants that signed a joint statement condemning and threatening Indiana for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Many of these companies were also forced to release equally condemning diversity reports in 2014, with almost identical letters of embarrassment from their CEO’s.
Here’s a chart examining the equality “report cards” for four of the top companies that condemned Indiana. It compares the % of parity (equality) in hiring women, % of parity in hiring blacks, and the Corporate Equality Index score (perfect score=100), which rates companies for their corporate commitment to LGBT workers, pro-LGBT policies, and LGBT equality in benefits.
The Whole World Is Watching
Here’s the lesson: people are not always what they seem. In fact, all humans are capable of lying about their true agenda, even to themselves.
So in the pursuit of discernment, the Bible offers this little diamond of wisdom:
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1 (NIV)
Those who are quick to turn their swords outward in the name of freedom are not the true heroes. Often, these are the very men who promote self-interest in the name of righteousness, and practice prejudice, exploitation, and sin behind closed doors.
People who are truly committed to freedom start with their own house. They fight the battle of sin in their own backyard, bloodying their sword on their own demons before preaching at everyone else’s.
So if Tim Cook wants to be counted by women as one of the real crusaders, he will stop and listen to what we require.
He will take his political swagger, turn it around, walk it right back into the front doors of Apple, and not let it show its face in public again until a full 12% of his upper echelon workers are black, and 47% of his top positions are filled by women.
Until then, we will call him what he is. Not a civil rights crusader— a civil rights violator. Because a leader who tolerates discrimination within his own camp is a leader who promotes it. A person who justifies bigotry is a bigot himself.
You feign concern, Mr. Cook, but ultimately excuse yourself for the discrimination against women in your ranks.
That does not mean that women excuse you. We recognize a tree by its fruit, and this is what we see:
That the rich white gay man who insists that a man can replace a mother in a family and discriminates against women in hiring is not really different from a Southern Baptist minister who says women can’t preach.
They are different masks for the same old ugly face— the face of misogyny.
Prophetically speaking, the people who will unmask it are the ones you have hated from the beginning, as God said to Satan in the garden:
“…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NIV)
This is our message to all of the men leading the companies listed, who ride out to war for gay rights then discriminate against women.
When you hear the voice of the woman calling you out on your hypocrisy, you have two choices.
One: humble yourself and listen. Be extraordinary and change your ways.
Or two: take up the mantra of every other misogynist in the history of man— “Shut up woman! Stay in your place!”
Make your choice, gentlemen. I dare you.
Women will be watching.