Denise Young Smith
Denise Young Smith resigns from Apple as its first-ever diversity chief after less than a year. Smith is pictured speaking at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 27th Annual Awards Gala on November 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

Denise Young Smith, Apple's first-ever vice president of inclusion and diversity, resigned from her position after less than a year, according to reports Thursday. Smith, who had been with Apple since 1997, was set to exit the company by the end of the year. She was to be replaced in 2018 by Christie Smith, a former managing principal at Deloitte.

Young's resignation came on the heels of comments she made during a panel discussion in October that appeared to equate a group of "white, blue-eyed blond men in a room" as being diverse. Fellow panelist DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist, asserted that "white privilege" must be recognized when discussing issues of diversity. Young claimed these comments encouraged her to step down from the role, but that she had intended to part the position she began in May long before.

"We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation," an Apple representative said Friday in a statement to International Business Times. "We're thrilled to welcome an accomplished leader like Christie Smith to help us continue the progress we've made toward a more diverse workplace."

Smith reportedly spoke with Apple CEO Tim Cook about her career and its next stage. This led the tech company to begin searching for an adequate replacement to succeed the Apple veteran. Although she previously aided in Apple's human resources depart, her VP position allowed her the ability to improve the company's diversity practices and handle other human resources related needs.

Apple's Nov. 9 diversity report showed the company was pushing to hire more diverse workers. The company did hire larger numbers of Asian, black and Hispanic workers. It also locked in more women in leadership roles. The tech company said it recognized that its diversity tactics could still improve significantly, saying: "Meaningful change takes time."

As for Smith's career path post-Apple, she was set to serve as the next executive-in-residence at Cornell Tech, a part of Cornell University. In that role, she would work with students to help establish early awareness of "inclusive leadership and diverse talent."

"I'm taking on this project because it will allow me to address the deep sense of urgency I feel to help evolve the thinking of our current and future tech leaders," Smith said in a Nov. 7 news release. "By instilling the value of true diversity and inclusion into Cornell Tech's unique base of students and faculty, we will not only make an impact on the institution but also, and most important, on the next generation of leaders as they go out into the world."

Smith will succeed Judith Spitz, a former Verizon CIO, as Cornell Tech's second executive-in-residence.