Earlier this week, an Apple Store in Melbourne, Australia, was caught in allegations of racism, as the store would not let some students into the store for fear that they might steal products.
A security guard initially blocked access to the store for the students of a nearby school, and later an Apple Store employee informed the students of the reason why they would not be granted access to the location. The incident was recorded on video, and, as such, went viral very quickly. Apple was quick to apologize for the incident.
Apple has released two statements on the matter, one from Apple CEO Tim Cook who said he wants “every customer visiting our stores or calling for support to feel welcome,” and a second general statement clarifying Apple’s core values.
“Inclusion and diversity are among Apple’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions. We’ve looked into the details of the situation and we apologize to the customers involved. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure all our customers are treated the way they should be.”
Following the public apology, Tim Cook has now sent an internal memo to its employees, which has been shared by BuzzFeed. In the letter, Cook calls what happened “unacceptable” and says the video “does not represent our values.”
He goes on to remind employees that “Apple is open” to people from “all walks of life” regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language, or point of view.
I’m sure you are all aware of the unacceptable incident which took place at our store at the Highpoint shopping center in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday. Several young men, who are students at a nearby school, had been asked by a security guard to leave the store. In an attempt to address the situation, one of our store employees gave an answer which shocked many of us.
What people have seen and heard from watching the video on the web does not represent our values. It is not a message we would ever want to deliver to a customer or hear ourselves. Our employee immediately expressed his regret and apologized to the students.
None of us are happy with the way this was handled. But we can all be proud of Kate, one of the senior managers at the Highpoint store.
On Wednesday, she greeted the same group of students to express a heartfelt apology on behalf of our store and our company. She reassured these young men that they and their fellow classmates would always be welcome at our store. The school’s principal later told a reporter that she delivered her message “with good grace,” and one of the students said, “It feels like we have justice now.”
Her words that day echoed a message you’ve heard many times from me and from Angela. It’s a simple pledge we all make to our customers and to ourselves:
Apple is open.
Our stores and our hearts are open to people from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language or point of view. All across our company, being inclusive and embracing our differences makes our products better and our stores stronger.
The Apple Store Highpoint is staffed by people who share these values and illustrate our commitment to diversity. The team is made up of coworkers from Australia, as well as Egypt, Italy, India and five other nations. Collectively they speak 15 languages, including Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin.
While I firmly believe that this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores, we will use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement. These are concepts and practices they know well, but can always stand to reinforce.
Respect for our customers is the foundation of everything we do at Apple. It’s the reason we put so much care into the design of our products. It’s the reason we make our stores beautiful and inviting, and extend their reach to benefit the communities around them. It’s the reason we commit ourselves to enriching people’s lives.
Thank you all for your dedication to Apple, to our values, and to the customers we are so very fortunate to serve.
Following the incident, the senior manager at the Apple Store where the teens were ousted invited them back along with their school principal to make a formal apology and to make it clear they are welcome in the store any time. Following the apology, one of the teens said “She apologized to us and told us that we are welcome here anytime. It feels like we have justice now.”
Tim Cook says ‘Apple Is Open’ After Melbourne Apple Store incident