November 4, 2014
Dear Mr. Cook,
Your words are an inspiration to advocates across the country forging a world where all people are treated with dignity and respect—regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. You should be commended for taking a righteous stand in support of human and civil rights and equality for all - like me, you are a son of the South, growing up amidst racial segregation and hostility and emerging from it with a commitment to racial and gender equality. From environmental issues to worker safety in manufacturing plants, to legislation affecting the gay community, your leadership hopefully will inspire other CEOs across Silicon Valley and corporate America to take positive and progressive action.
As you know, Rainbow PUSH is campaigning vigorously for technology companies to release their workforce diversity data, and to put inclusion at the top of their corporate agenda. You, and Apple, have responded and expressed your desire to really move the needle and “change the face of technology” to mirror your consumer base and the American in which we live.
My faith teaches that we should measure character by “how we treat the least of these.” Thus, I urge you also to provide better opportunities at all levels of industry—including contracted service workers at Apple’s locations. Apple has the opportunity to partner with community leaders to solve a grave imbalance in our economy: the lack of good jobs available for predominantly black and Latino service workers in tech.
As USA Today reported, for every tech job created, four service workers are needed to support it. A recent study by Working Partnerships USA found that tech companies are leaving valuable service workers behind by hiring irresponsible contractors who pay low wages and benefits. They report that Silicon Valley’s failure to generate decent-paying jobs is leaving “large numbers of Black and Latino workers trapped in low-wage, near poverty-level work.” These food service workers, landscapers and security officers deserve and are entitled to the same access to dignified wages and working conditions that other workers in tech enjoy.
The good news is that, with Apple’s leadership, we can correct the imbalance in the economy and make strides to close the income inequality gap and deliver some measure of economic justice to these service workers. Apple can commit to responsible contracting that provides service workers with good, family-supporting, dignified jobs and access to the economic opportunities generated by the tech industry. There’s an easy way of doing business—and then there’s the Apple way: a commitment to excellence and respect for all. Together, I’m confident we can continue the tradition Martin Luther King – as you have consistently and personally affirmed - when he said, “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
Earlier this year, we met with members of Apple’s team about the Rainbow PUSH digital connections initiative and the diversity and inclusion challenge we have put before the industry. I am anxious to meet personally with you, and with your team in the near future so that we can discuss how we can work together on these and other issues of mutual concern.
Rev. Jesse Jackson
President and Founder
Rainbow PUSH Coalition