Today is January 15, 2015 and it is a feather in Americas hat to know that there are many fortunate employees that benefit from the observation of this national holiday. Apple has been called out for not observing the Martin Luther King Federal holiday. While many big tech companies acknowledge the holiday, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo giving their employees a paid day off, Apple does not.
It is hard for many to believe that in 2015 this holiday is not observed by a company that uses King’s image in its ads. Apple choses to let its employees volunteer. In turn, the company matches $50 for each hour worked. To many workers, this does have the same effect as a paid holiday. In fact, the idea of volunteering loses its appeal for most if it is not an option.
Silicon Valley is known for its lack of diversity, and this just fans the fire. There are plenty in the industry who are not surprised that Apple is appearing not to be any different. For a company as progressive as Apple, it would seem logical that this forward-thinking company would lead the tech industry in sensitivity in matters like these. Some suggest that this would be the perfect opportunity to help break through the diversity issue with a positive and deliberate solution. Others believe that observing the MLK holiday should not be an option for Apple.
There are several large companies which embrace the holiday, and they are being commended for leading the way in Silicone Valley. More MLK holiday observers include Uber, Linkedin, Glassdoor, Ebay, Square and Andreessen. That being the case, the wisdom of courting the title of ” the worst offenders” in diversity is being questioned. They are considered one of the big players if not the biggest, and critics feel that there is no excuse for one of the industry leaders to hold back from recognizing the holiday with a day off from work .
There are several tech companies that don’t observe the holiday. Apple is not alone in that. It is not going unnoticed. Just recently at the CES show in Las Vegas, it was a hot topic. Intel Pledged to spend $300 million on diversity in its workforce by 2020.
The failure to allow a day off for this holiday may be more of a financial decision for a company which essentially never shuts its doors than evidence of a lack of inclusivity. Realistically speaking, a company of that size and scope would lose a lot of money sacrificing an entire day of production for any holiday. In the end, it is essentially a matter of managing social and cultural expectations against the impact on the bottom line. That is a juggling act for any company.
People fought to get Martin Luther King Day observed, and now it is a national American holiday. Based on that struggle, there is a large contingent that believes that there should be no question whether it is observed by Apple or any other establishment. The legal requirements for observation may be met, but there remains the issue of perception. Even Microsoft has two optional days that could allow them to observe the MLK holiday, and Apple may need to consider something similar if only to solve the issue of public relations.