A report containing a series of leaked emails from Apple employees has prompted the company to respond to claims that its work environment is "toxic" and "sexist" and that managers took no action when male staff made jokes about rape.
The allegations were first published by millennial magazine Mic, which obtained the emails and accounts of a dozen unidentified women who claim to have been subjected to a "very toxic atmosphere" within the tech giant's walls.
The leak came from a 50-page email thread given to the publisher by an Apple employee, which cited the experience of a separate employee – under the pseudonym of 'Danielle' – who apparently made attempts to challenge her male colleagues' behavior by escalating her complaints to Apple's chief executive Tim Cook.
Danielle, who is an engineer at Apple, spoke out after men on her team joked that an office intruder was coming to "rape everybody". She had apparently already made repeated formal complaints to her manager about similar statements, but nothing had been changed, so despite an apology from her colleague she decided to take the matter further.
Writing in an email sent to Tim Cook, Mic reports that Danielle told the chief executive: "Rape jokes in work chat is basically where I completely draw the limit," adding, "I do not feel safe at a company that tolerates individuals who make rape jokes." Danielle claimed Cook failed to respond to her issue.
According to the accounts of other employees detailed in the email thread, the allegations imply that this experience wasn't unique. According to Mic, other incidents included a woman emailing a "plea to help" with Apple's business conduct contact after an "uncomfortable," meeting where she was the only female in the room, women reportedly being passed over for leadership positions and other instances of so-called "subtle sexism" like a manager telling a woman to "smile" as she walked back to her office cubicle.
Apple has so far declined to comment on specific claims in Mic's story, but issued a statement to the title saying: "Apple is committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect.
"When we receive complaints or hear that employees are concerned about their work environment, we take it very seriously and we investigate claims thoroughly — as we have each of the matters you describe.
"If we find behavior to be at odds with our values, we take action. Out of respect for the privacy of our employees, we do not discuss specific matters or their resolution."
Just 32 per cent of the Silicon Valley giant's staff are female, and the workforce remains overwhelmingly white and male; with men making up 67 per cent of the entire workforce and over half of its employees being white. These allegations are likely to prove problematic for the brand, which was shown to be making slow but steady process in recruiting more women and minorities in its latest diversity report.