James Governor's Monkchips

This week in diversity: Welsh goalkeeper shoots and scores, but trashfire facepalms at Apple and Uber

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Neville Southall made 578 appearances for Everton Football Club. He also played for Wales, winning 92 caps between 1982 and 1998. Now – Football isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of understanding on LGBTQ issues, so it’s been heart-warming to say the least, this week, to see his big, open, heart at work. Earlier this week, he asked, what’s difference between sex and gender? He got schooled, and here he was yesterday summing up what actually matters

Fuck Yeah Neville Southall. So that’s a football player.

How’s tech doing? At least two interviews this week were made of purest facepalm. I mean seriously – what ever happened to public relations? Who on God’s earth thought it was a good idea to unleash stuff like we heard from Apple and Uber this week this on the world?

First up, Apple’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Denise Young Smith, said:

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too.”

Yeah, especially if they’re Phi Beta Kappa, am I right? Young Smith apparently continued:

“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.

Sorry I am definitely in camp Jason Shen here.

The problem here is not diversity of thought. This is not about white male engineers having technical arguments with each other, it’s the lived experience and contribution of groups that are not so privileged or well represented. Apple, like every other company in tech, needs to level up, and do a better job of hiring and management and support of under-represented groups. Which brings us nicely to our friends at Uber.

Can This Executive Make Uber a Place Women Want to Work?

As was recently pointed out, when a journalist asks a question in a headline like this… the answer is always no. Uber’s issues are deep seated, and go way beyond hiring a new CEO. The fallout from Susan J Fowler’s post about Uber’s toxic culture is very much not over in terms of Uber being an aspirational place to work. Yet Liane Hornsey, Uber’s human-resources chief, says she sees no need to talk to Fowler. Instead she popped up in the Wall Street Journal this week explaining how Uber had its eye on a (very small) group of women it would be interested in hiring. Maybe fix the culture first?

About to hit publish, I realise I haven’t said anything about an issue I had this week with an all male panel, my thoughts about it, and the ongoing fallout. That is, I have called out two women discussing D&I, but left out discussing problems with all male panels. That post is coming. I have many things to say about how we all need to do  better.


  1. I believe you’ve misinterpreted Young Smith’s intent in her words, possibly from looking at them out of order. “Diversity is the human experience” was the main thrust, and “There can be diversity” was a follow up to emphasize that it’s not just about race or gender.

    To whit: Disability, age, national origin, religion, and sexuality are all things that can vary among 12 blonde white men.

    So, if you’re in charge of diversity across a multinational company whose goal is to serve *literally* every niche of humanity with a consumer product, I get why you might want to emphasize how you’re working on it at every level.

    1. @danno thanks i will look again. but i think the quote carries very unfortunate connotations.

  2. thanks

  3. Urgh, Denise Young Smith was asked a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t question’ i.e. are you going to focus on just black women. The quote is taken out of context and unfortunate but we know what she meant.

    On the face of it may come across as a facepalm. But in that vein isn’t this post just a white-dude criticizing a powerful black lady and then using other white-dude’s tweet to mansplain what she not already knows but has likely lived all her career?

    Let’s go deeper than that, keep things in context and accentuate the positive.

    1. tracy thanks for calling me out. i was aware of that concern when i wrote the post. privileged white dude mansplains diversity to woman of colour is not a good look. that said, Denise Young Smith has herself apologised for the unfortunate choice of words. I believe the “diversity of thought” argument against more overt D&I efforts is unhelpful and we should be very wary of it.

      I would also be cautious of labelling @jasonshen a “white dude”. he’s an asian american, and brings that perspective to bear.

      1. Denise Young Smith handles the situation very gracefully.

        My apologies to @jasonshen for my offhand labelling & comment. I do see the irony of me criticizing you criticizing others. Time to take my own advice.

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