Tim Cook congratulates Australia on marriage equality vote…with a New Zealand flag
Australia has just taken a significant step towards legalising marriage equality after what Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull described as an “unequivocal, overwhelming” vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
Messages of support have been pouring in across social media, including from the tech sector. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was among those sending out his congratulations:
“Congratulations Australia! Another important step toward equality for all,” he said.
When Cook originally posted the tweet, however, he used the New Zealand flag instead of the Australian one. He quickly deleted the tweet and replaced it with the correct flag, but not before screenshots started to do the rounds.
To someone unfamiliar with the flags, they do look very similar. The most prominent difference is the additional star in the Australian flag. This shouldn’t detract away from the incredible move made by Australia with this vote, as well as Cook’s almost constant drive for inclusion and diversity.
During an interview with Alphr in October, Cook spoke of the need to improve diversity in the workforce to widen the number of voices and ideas. Cook believes tech companies, in general, have not done a good job at retaining women, in particular, as they progress through their career. “Some of that is a lack of flexibility; to let them stop and have kids and come back.” And while many companies are “doing a better job” in this respect, Cook claims we’re at a point that the role model issue in schools continues to transcend all the way up to business. “There are many industries where this is the case, where there are not enough women at the top at reaching out.”
The number of females joining Apple as new hires has risen from 31% in 2014 to 37% last year. Some 27% of the companies newest employees additionally fall into the “underrepresented minorities” group, which includes black, Hispanic, and Native Americans. Cook admits that there is still work to do across the tech industry and that progress is moving “too slow for us all,” but “things are beginning to change.” Apple also runs an equal pay scheme and as of August 2016, women and minorities each $1 for every $1 dollar male employees make.
(Tweet with NZ flag)
Cook was the first CEO in the Fortune 500 to come out as gay, too. In a poignant personal essay in 2014, Cook wrote: “I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.
“At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realise that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
National celebrations have been spreading across Australia since 61.6% voted in favour of legalising marriage equality. Turnbull has said that the Australian parliament must commit to turning that result into law by Christmas.
“They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people asked us to do and get this done,” he said.