Last week, I wrote an editorial on Jesse Jackson's call for more racial diversity in the leadership and governance of Silicon Valley companies. Jackson pointed out that many of these companies have zero diversity in key areas. But Jesse Jackson is not the only person calling for diversity, and governance is not the only area requiring attention. Apple has chosen to respond to a very different call, from a very different source, in a very different area:
Emoji — the tiny art that can be stuck in texts, emails, and elsewhere to emote thoughts, feelings, and replace entire words — doesn't have a whole lot of diversity when it comes to the humans who are depicted. Very few of those characters, which originated from Japanese phone carriers, are non-Caucasian, though it might not be that way for long. Speaking to MTV Act, an Apple spokeswoman says the company has been "working closely" with the Unicode Consortium (of which it's a member) to update, and perhaps expand the emoji character set:
It seems a very different kind of celebrity has Apple's ear on the matter of racial diversity. Not only did Apple respond to the issue, but publicly. When it comes to emoji equality, Apple has your back! Why should we brown people have to express our sardonic side with snarky looking pink faces? Oh, the humanity! Fortunately, Apple is on the case. We can look forward to the day when that steaming poop emoji gains some ethnicity.
Unfortunately, that is not the most pressing diversity issue on the table. I am somewhat miffed that Apple found the time to publicly address emoji diversity, but not the real issues of diversity that plague the company. It is worth noting that this is not the first time Apple dealt with emoji diversity. They put their muscle behind introducing LGBT friendly emoticons. Well, at least Apple is dealing with Tim Cook's equality issues. While Apple leads the band in some equality issues, they are completely tone deaf to others.