Apple addressed the tragic circumstances of George Floyd’s death on Thursday with a message from chief executive officer Tim Cook.
Following calls for the tech giant to weigh in on the tragedy, as well as the massive movement taking hold across the nation, the ceo weighed in with a letter titled “Speaking up on racism.”
“Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions,” he wrote. “To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.”
According to Cook, Apple pledges to dedicate itself to “creating a better, more just world for everyone.”
Notably, Apple — a technology brand known for its premium devices — was a favored targets of looters, who smashed Apple Store windows in several cities and made off with floor model iPhones, iPads and Macbooks, among other things. The thefts are apparently for naught, though, as the tech giant has spent years developing security for mobile devices and has honed a system that can “brick” stolen gadgets, making them unusable.
As for its statement, the company is far from the only consumer brand to offer remarks during this period of social unrest. Perhaps most famously, Nike leapt to action early with its “For once, don’t do it” video, a play on its iconic “Just do it” slogan, and Adidas retweeted it. Cynical types might weigh the sincerity of those sentiments against business interests, as black consumers make up a large share of sportswear and ath-leisure brands’ customer base.
In the days that followed, hundreds of athletes, celebrities and influencers, as well as other companies, have spoken out or extended support, including major players like Facebook and Citibank. But there’s rising criticism that corporate entities are using the moment to manipulate or capitalize on public sentiment. And it’s indeed bracing to see, in some cases, large organizations lamenting injustice or the racial fissures wracking society, when big companies often foment them — whether in hiring practices, evaluations of creditworthiness or toxic workplace cultures.
The tech sector has been contending with accusations of unequal treatment for years now. Just last November, several current and former Facebook employees put out a Medium post, “Facebook Empowers Racism Against Its Employees of Color.” The gist: The social giant cultivates a culture of racist and discriminatory behavior targeting African Americans and Hispanics, according to the authors. Such accusations have ripped across Silicon Valley, taking aim at places like Facebook, Google and Apple, among others.
For its part, Apple seems to be paying more attention to social and political matters under Tim Cook than his predecessor. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was known more for his obsession with innovation and design than social responsibility.
Under Cook, the tech brand released its very first diversity report three years ago and hired a new vice president of diversity. According to the company’s latest figures, 53 percent of its new U.S. hires are from historically underrepresented groups in tech.
During Cook’s tenure, the company has been outspoken on issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, and recently participated in an online blackout to show solidarity with protestors who are standing against police brutality and racial injustice.
“We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor, and life,” the ceo wrote in his letter, which appears now on Apple’s web site.