- Fifteen current and former Apple female employees say the company dismissed claims of misconduct.
- The FT reports the HR unit retaliated against some of them after speaking up about the incidents.
- Apple acknowledged its missteps, telling the outlet that it intends to “make changes.”
Apple said it’s making changes after over a dozen women reported sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment — and were met with an apathetic, sometimes hostile, Human Resources team, Financial Times reports.
In interviews with FT, one woman said a male colleague took advantage of her after a casual co-worker’s happy hour, assisting her home and then removing her clothing to take photos of her when she fell asleep.
Another woman said a male colleague sent them incessant sexual messages, and her manager bullied her when she took leave to be with an ailing relative.
The 15 women, who are both current and former employees at Apple, said they took their claims to the company’s HR unit, which is dubbed the People Team internally.
But the team primarily catered to the wishes of the managers instead of taking the women’s claims seriously, they alleged per the report. The FT viewed email exchanges showing HR turning defensive and claiming there was nothing they could do, even if the women had hard proof.
Some women said reporting to officials eventually led to them leaving the company, with the team citing indiscretions in their performance. Others said Apple offered them lump sums of salary “for alleged emotional distress” or as an incentive not to disparage the company.
Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A spokesperson told the FT that while the company wants all employees to feel comfortable reporting issues, it hasn’t always made it easy to do so.
“There are some accounts raised that do not reflect our intentions or our policies and we should have handled them differently, including certain exchanges reported in this story,” Apple told the FT. “As a result, we will make changes to our training and processes.”
Apple is grappling with an increasingly vocal workforce
Apple has been attempting to publicly highlight its efforts to empower female employees in the workplace, as has the rest of historically male-dominated Silicon Valley. Yet, reports of continued inequality and maltreatment have surfaced at tech giants like Google and Amazon.
Apple is notorious for its intense culture of secrecy, a feat challenged by the remote work-friendly pandemic, the company’s adoption of the workplace messaging platform Slack, and fed-up employees taking to social media to air their grievances.
Workers have grown increasingly vocal about their concerns, creating cracks in Apple’s “surprise and delight” battle cry of keeping details about their work culture under wraps.
For example, former Apple engineer Ashley Gjøvik posted claims of rampant sexism, bullying, and mismanagement on Twitter in August 2021, and was promptly put on leave. She alleged that senior employees kept a tally of votes on a whiteboard about how they could make her life at Apple a “living hell.”
And in mid-2021, about 80 Apple employees wrote an internal letter to CEO Tim Cook protesting the company’s return-to-office policy, which would require them to work in the office three days a week.
It was postponed due to COVID-19 until May when another group of employees wrote an open letter to Apple’s top brass pushing back on the mandate that would allow two days to work from home.
“You have characterized the decision for the Hybrid Working Pilot as being about combining the need to commune in-person and the value of flexible work,” the May letter reads. “But in reality, it does not recognize flexible work and is only driven by fear.”