Apple Inc. is donating more than $50 million to several nonprofit organizations to attract more women, minorities and veterans to technology industry jobs, Apple said during an exclusive interview with Fortune Tuesday. The move comes as the tech giant holds its annual shareholders meeting and prepares for the April 24 launch its highly anticipated Apple Watch, the company's first product for the wearable devices market.
Representatives from Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple is partnering with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), a nonprofit organization that helps expand opportunities for women in technology. The company plans to donate around $10 million over four years with the aim of doubling the number of four-year-degree recipients supported by NCWIT’s internships and scholarships.
The iPhone-maker is also partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit that supports students enrolled in public, historically black colleges and universities, including North Carolina A&T State University, Howard University and Grambling State University. Apple is committing more than $40 million to the fund, Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, told Fortune.
“We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” Denise Young Smith, human resources chief at Apple, told Fortune in the interview. “There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”
Young Smith added Apple wants its employee base also to reflect different lifestyles and sexual orientations.
Diversity has become a hot topic in the tech industry. Many companies are drawing criticism for being largely white and male, including Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Corp. and Apple. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook announced in August he was “not satisfied” with employee diversity within the company, and said he was committed to “advancing diversity” after Apple released its employee diversity report.
The figures showed Apple’s U.S. employees last year -- in both tech and nontech positions -- were 55 percent white, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic and 7 percent black. Globally, 70 percent of Apple’s employees were male and 30 percent were female last year while male and female employees in executive positions were 72 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
Shares of Apple dropped nearly 2 percent to $124.82 in midday trading Tuesday, one day after the company’s “Spring Forward” launch event for the Apple Watch.