Over the weekend, some Apple employees were surprised to discover that the company now recognizes Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.
This is a first. Last year, instead of paid time-off, Apple donated $50 per hour for volunteer work employees performed as part of its gift matching program.
The delay in embracing the national holiday is ironic considering how much Apple (and other tech companies) have talked about hiring diversity and other civil rights issues of late. It’s doubly ironic given that Apple
has used images and quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. in its commercials for more than a decade.
Other Silicon Valley darlings including Facebook
already recognized Martin Luther King Day, which has been a federal holiday since 1986, although it took many states much longer to adopt it. South Carolina, the last holdout, adopted the holiday for its employees in 2000.
On Monday, Apple also dedicated its home page to the civil rights icon, who would have been 87 on January 15.
More on tech company’s diversity hiring practices.
That move sparked both praise and rebuke. Skeptics pointed out that, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s inclusive stance on LGBT rights, Apple’s record on hiring non-white, non-male people remains sorely lacking. Just last week, the company faced headlines like this: Apple’s mostly white board says a call for diversity is unduly burdensome and not necessary.
According to Apple’s latest diversity report in August, 54% of total U.S. employees (including retail store employees) were white, as were 63% of executives, although the company had hired higher percentages of female, African American, and Latino people during the year.
How this CEO is making boardroom diversity a reality.
Apple’s board is against a proposal by investor Antonio Avian Maldonado II that recommends the company boost diversity of its board and senior management staff, according to Quartz.
Fortune has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story as needed.
Of 18 Apple senior level executives, three are women, one is black. Five of its eight board members are white men.
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But hiring diversity is all relative. Vocativ, citing Apple numbers, reported that its track record is better than that of Twitter
, Facebook, eBay
, Google and Yahoo
in terms of percentage of diversity hires for management positions in the U.S. At Apple, 37% of the leadership positions are held by non-white individuals, according to the company’s website.