Diverse people and diverse ideas make better products

It means something when an influential CEO like Tim Cook, representing a company as widely imitated as Apple, says:

“…from the very earliest days we have known that diversity is critical to our success. We believe deeply that inclusion inspires innovation. Our definition of diversity goes far beyond the traditional categories of race, gender, and ethnicity.”

After recording his own dissatisfaction with Apple’s current diversity, Cook goes on to establish a direct link between diversity and Apple’s unique ability to achieve good customer experiences:

“Above all, when we think of the diversity of our team, we think of the values and ideas they bring with them as individuals. Ideas drive the innovation that makes Apple unique, and they deliver the level of excellence our customers have come to expect.”

These statements were made in a letter from Tim Cook, highlighted on the front page of Apple’s web-site, and linking to a report detailing the current balance of ethnicity, race and gender among Apple’s employees.

Actions speak louder than words, of course, and Apple will be judged on its ability to make good on these promises. However, it is an encouraging sign the matter is being taken seriously when the company has rightly identified such a strong link between its ability to succeed and the enthusiasm with which it encourages employees with diverse, new ideas. There is no stronger way to send a message on this issue than by a company of Apple’s influence elevating it from the usual afterthought of ‘corporate social responsibility’ to a principle fundamental to the future of its business.

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