Denise Young Smith has apologised for her comments, but why did she make them in the first place? The newly appointed head of Apple's diversity who is African American and is Apple's first Vice President in this role has said that she is frustrated when the term diversity is used to refer to LGBTQ, women and people of colour. She feels that a room of white, blue-eyed, men could be just as diverse.

Speaking for herself or Apple?

One wonders if a representative in such a key role at Apple was simply speaking her mind or explaining the company's real vision of diversity.

Denise Young Smith did not make an off-the-cuff comment, instead, it read as a well thought out, rational explanation of the term from a Human Resource perspective. However, we know that Apple did not go to the trouble of appointing a head of diversity simply to deal with diverse ideas. Apple and Silicon Valley as a whole have been criticised for their lack of diversity, specifically as it relates to hiring practices of visible minorities and women. Apple acknowledged this shortcoming and spoke of efforts to attract more people in this group.

Vice president of diversity and inclusion

It is unlikely that Ms Young Smith would be confused about her role as Vice President of diversity and inclusion since the title speaks for itself.

So the question is whether the new VP is a mere figurehead, an appointment meant to appease the growing criticism of Apple's diversity, or is her role so daunting that she has decided to re-brand the diversity and inclusion part of her title? Only in this context will her statement sound plausible. Yes, we all agree that there are differences among blue eyed blond haired White Men but is this the extent of her role as chief - to identify diversity within the Apple status quo?

A bumpy road

In her speech at a conference in Columbia last week, Denise Young Smith not only expressed her frustration with diversity as it relates to certain groups but she went on to illustrate how a room of blue-eyed, blonde hair white men could be just as diverse as people of colour and women and that diversity really had little to do with skin colour or gender.

With statements like the ones made by Apple’s VP of Diversity, it looks like a bumpy road ahead for attaining true inclusion in Silicon Valley. Apple’s own 2016 diversity report shows the company globally is made up of 68% male. In the US, 56% of the company’s employees are white.