Apple Denise Young Smith Denise Young Smith, Apple's outgoing vice president for diversity and inclusion. Getty Images Entertainment

  • Apple's first head of diversity is leaving the firm after taking up the role in May.
  • Denise Young Smith drew criticism last month when she said a room of "12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men" could be diverse.
  • Smith — who has been with Apple since 2000, according to her LinkedIn profile — had apparently already decided to leave the company before the controversy, TechCrunch reported.


Apple's vice president for diversity and inclusion, Denise Young Smith, is leaving the company after six months in the role, according to TechCrunch.

The report says she will be replaced by Christie Smith, previously a managing principal at Deloitte.

Apple did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment but confirmed Christie Smith's role in a statement to TechCrunch.

"We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation," a representative told the news outlet. "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."

Though Denise Young Smith last month made controversial comments about diversity, she apparently had already made up her mind to leave Apple, the TechCrunch report said.

Speaking at the One Young World Summit in Colombia in October, Smith said, "There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they're going to be diverse too because they're going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation."

Her comments drew immediate criticism at a time of extreme sensitivity around the topic of diversity in Silicon Valley. Smith backtracked a few days later.

Writing for The New York Times, StubHub's head of business operations in North America, Bari Williams, wrote: "Those of us in the tech industry know that the idea of 'cognitive diversity' is gaining traction among leaders in our field.

"In too many cases, this means that, in the minds of those with influence over hiring, the concept of diversity is watered down and reinterpreted to encompass what Silicon Valley has never had a shortage of — individual white men, each with their unique thoughts and ideas."

Apple's recently released annual diversity report showed that it had nudged up the proportion of women in leadership roles by only 1 percentage point, to 29%. The percentage of black, multiracial, and Hispanic employees in leadership did not change, while the proportion of Asians in such roles increased to 23% from 21% last year.

"Meaningful change takes time," the company said in its report. "We're proud of our accomplishments, but we have much more work to do."