Apple CEO Tim Cook and Deirdre O'Brien, the company's SVP of Retail and People, held a meeting on Friday to answer questions from employees, amid what the New York Times describes as "surprising unrest".
The NYT reports that the meeting, which was broadcast to Apple employees around the world, touched on a range of topics: among other things, the two Apple bigwigs fielded questions about equal pay and the company's political influence. According to employees who asked these questions, however, only two were answered.
Cook did comment on equal pay, and both he and O'Brien said the company regularly evaluates compensation rules and makes sure they are fair to employees.
"When we find any gaps at all [between pay awarded to different demographic groups], which sometimes we do, we close them," Ms. O'Brien said.
Cook also spoke about the abortion restrictions in Texas. Apple, he said, is looking into ways to help fight against the new law; the company's medical insurance will help pay for employees based in Texas who need to travel to other states for an abortion.
But Cook reportedly declined to answer certain questions. These included questions submitted by the AppleToo activist group regarding what specific steps Apple has taken to address pay disparities and make Apple's leadership more representative of women and minorities.
Over the past month, according to the NYT, more than 500 current and former Apple employees have submitted accounts of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination at work to the group. Some of these stories have been posted online.
After the meeting, AppleToo leader Janneke Parrish was dismissive. "With the answers Tim gave today," she said, "we weren't heard."
The mission statement at the top of the AppleToo website gives an idea of the strength of feeling among at least some of the company's employees.
"For too long, Apple has evaded public scrutiny," the statement reads. "The truth is that for many Apple workers - a reality faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous, and other colleagues from minoritised racial, gender, and historically marginalised groups of people - the culture of secrecy creates an opaque, intimidating fortress. When we press for accountability and redress to the persistent injustices we witness or experience in our workplace, we are faced with a pattern of isolation, degradation, and gaslighting."
Apple came under fire last month when it was reported that the company blocked employee pay surveys, potentially violating worker protections.
In a statement to The NYT, meanwhile, Apple says it is committed to an inclusive workplace.
"We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace," the company said. "We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters."