A group of Apple employees has been conducting internal surveys about what their colleagues think of a hybrid return-to-work, and also pay equity. However, according to some employees, the company is now shutting down these practices and prohibiting employees from taking internal surveys.
As reported by the Verge on Monday, despite Apple saying it doesn’t have a problem with pay inequality, the company reportedly shut down at least three internal surveys of employees who wanted to verify that information themselves.
The first survey asked employees to voluntarily share their salaries and how they identify themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. Apple’s human resources team has asked the responsible employees to stop the survey because the demographic questions contain “personally identifying information.”
Earlier this month, another group of employees was told to shut down a survey because it had questions about gender.The group removed the related questions and then Apple once again ceased the survey, this time claiming that it was hosted on a corporate account.
Following all these events, Apple has sent out the following internal statement to its employees:
The following employee surveys are prohibited in all cases and may not be conducted.
Surveys as Data Collection
Surveys are not permitted to be used as a means of collecting identifiable employee data without following the usual process to obtain this data from the People team. This includes any questions about an employee’s address, demographics, and so on, except for collecting country or region, which is permitted.
Using surveys as a tool to collect health information — including but not limited to health reports, testing results, and vaccination status — is also prohibited.
All requests for identifiable employee data must be submitted to the People team via the People Report Request Form. If approved, the People team will provide the employee data directly from their systems.
Surveys Requesting Diversity Data
Diversity data is highly sensitive personal data. If you have a need for such information, you must work with your I&D Business Partner and the I&D Insights and Solutions team before collecting any data.
Multiple labor lawyers heard by the Verge have mentioned that Apple may be violating worker protection laws. They believe that surveys can be considered a form of labor organizing, and that “employees have the right to discuss pay” under US law.
Apple engineer Cher Scarlett, who previously complained about how the company has been handling work-from-home requests, is now taking a new anonymous survey with other Apple employees. This time, the survey is being conducted on an external platform.
Scarlett says that no one wants to accuse Apple of a wage gap among employees because of gender or other aspects, but the fact that the company has been taking down surveys makes employees even more suspicious.
Earlier this month, another Apple engineer revealed that she was placed on administrative leave after complaining on Twitter about sexism at work. At the same time, other employees continue to criticize the company for its hybrid work-from-home model, which has been delayed until October due to new cases of COVID-19 around the world.
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