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Apple: “We are committed to diversity”, but what about its Resellers? December 2, 2008

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in Apple, australia, Equality, job, mac os x, technology.
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“We are committed to diversity. Apple is an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

These words grace the bottom of the jobs page on the Apple corporate website, and they are indeed committed to diversity.  It was Apple who stood up publicly and opposed proposition eight in the US, when the rest of the corporate world said nothing. It was a proud moment for Apple, when so many others only paid lip service to diversity, here they were trying to defend it.  Diversity means many things, freedom of religion, race, sexual orientation just to name a few.  Many companies would be hard pressed to live up to its example.   

However, Apple is not just its core business, its own stores and its own people.  It business was built on the backs of its resellers as well, companies representing Apple in the world at large, committed to delivering its products and services to people all around the globe.  Although Apples website proudly states that it is committed to diversity, what about its resellers?  Do they hold the same core principles to be true?

Sadly, my wife’s (we are married in Canada) recent experiences with a major Australian premium reseller leave us both with sour taste in our mouth, and wondering if resellers truly live up to the hype.  But the sad truth is that its resellers here in Australia that give people the most impression of what Apple is about.   Apple is in the process of opening more official Apple stores, but its reputation is really whatever the resellers convey.  In many respects for many communities, they are Apple.

But first, a little back story…

In Canada, my wife had over five years experience working with an Apple Authorized Reseller, had her ACTC, and several other certifications.  A couple of years ago, she came to Australia to be with me (we met online, and fell in love – another story for another day), and at the time it seemed natural that she would come here, as I was at the time in less of a position to reciprocate.  She is very good at what she does, has a good rapport with customers, is tech savvy, and was a valued technician and sales person at that store.

She recently interviewed for a permanent part time technical position with an Apple Premium Reseller, and after a brief phone interview with the recruiter for the parent company (who incidentally, was very excited about my partners certifications and experience) put her forward and arranged an interview with the Technical Manager for Victoria.  She was told several times during that interview that her qualifications were better than other people they had spoken to (in that no-one else so far had Apple certifications), and also that she seemed to understand the business.  You would think that after five plus years doing what she did and doing it well, that this would indeed be the case.

She came out of the interview feeling somewhat confident, however there were a few things nagging at her. During the course of the interview, they had joked about the fact they had a few “girls” around to do RMAs on iPods and such, and there seemed to be the implication that they seemed to think of “the girls” as they put it, only in terms of pretty faces to have around and do simple tasks.  In spite of this potentially chauvinistic attitude, my partner felt she interviewed well, and we were quietly hopeful, since she seemed a good fit for the position.  She has many years of experience dealing with customers, is Apple certified (both ACTC and APP), and was seeking what this role offered: a part-time semi technical position on the service desk.  My partner is an author and wants to ultimately pursue her writing, and the permanent part-time role gave her exactly that opportunity.  

At the end of the interview, she was given the impression that she was well suited to the position, and that she was a front-runner for the role.  The usual pleasantries were discussed, including when she could start, whether or not she had flexibility with hours.  All of which my partner replied to in the affirmative.  She had even stated that she would help out, when the service desk was idle, offered to get herself refreshed on the latest service manuals, and update her certifications to the most recent ones.  She parted with the interviewers on what she thought was good terms and was told that would be calling her early in the next week.

Time passed. No phone call.  Instead, an impersonal boiler-plate email arrived via the recruiter telling her that although she “interviewed well”, she was not considered “suitable” for the position.  The usual pleasantries and drivel that one comes to expect.  “We will keep your details for future opportunities”. 

What is particularly galling in this case, is that my partner was an ideal fit for the position.  She was seeking a permanent part time position (which this was) – something that left enough hours in the day to do other things.  She has a great amount of technical expertise, is Apple certified, has five plus years experience in a both a sales, support and technical roles.  She has good references from her store in Canada, who have maintained that she is always welcome back there.  Not something that one says to everyone they have hired.  In fact, when we spent almost a year back in Canada in 2007, she was welcomed back with open arms there.

Now the puzzling part. We are faced with the inevitable question why they would choose another candidate in her place, after having stated that she was the most suitable candidate with certifications and experience.  Was it that I gave her a kiss goodbye before her interview?  Because we are gay?  Did they see that? (I kissed her and wished her luck near the store, not directly out the front of it.)  Or did they only interview her because they were amused by a woman with technical certifications? Or perhaps because they had to, for fear of causing an incident by rejecting her application outright.  Perhaps Steve Job’s nephew appeared in a puff of smoke, and needed a job desperately.  All we have is some vague platitudes, some non-existent feedback, and the nagging fear that, Australia, seems to be stuck in the 1950’s.

Sadly, I have observed more much more gender bias here regarding technical jobs than in Canada.  It seems like the glass ceiling still exists here, and it makes me very sad and angry.  It takes many applications submitted for suitable jobs for my wife to get an interview for a technical role.  I can’t help feeling that betrayed by this country, after all, she deserves much better than this after giving up so much to be here.  It makes me feel deeply ashamed to be an Australian.   

“Do I smell?”, she asks sadly. I assure her that she is skilled and talented, and wonderful.  But my words can do little to ease her hurt, when the world at large seems determined to deny her a “fair go”.

But now I come back to my original question, and some advice for Apple proper.  In Australia in particular, where Apples own stores are still being built, and the market is still in its infancy, are not its Resellers its corporate representatives? Apple needs to be aware and reminded that its resellers are in most respects its public face, that they carry a branding that is Apple, and indicates to the community at large its perceived core values by their behavior.  

Does Apple expect its resellers to follow its corporate policies?  I believe in Apple; that it does indeed represent diversity as it suggests.  Perhaps though it needs to look a little closer at its resellers, and decide for itself if they too, represent its ideals.  Ask a simple question – perhaps the resellers themselves should be asking… Are they in alignment with Apples core beliefs? Do they have a diverse workforce and do they value that diversity? Ask your local Apple reseller what proportion of their workforce is female. Do they have a diverse mix in technical roles? If not why not. 

We have given the reseller in question three days to provide clarification on why my partner was rejected for the role, in accordance with equal opportunity legislation and guidelines.   We are not going to take this lightly, as she has every right to understand why they said one thing, and acted in a completely different way.  It pains me to see her hurt this way; I expected and hoped that we were in a more enlightened society here in Australia. Sadly, that seems not to be the case.

All my wife wants to do is to contribute to society, be a part of something and utilize her skills.  Surely that isn’t too much to ask?

But as the old adage goes, a few rotten apples can spoil the bunch.

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It’s time… April 21, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in immigration, job, love.
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It’s about time that I completed my IT degree.

In the Australian IT job market people now tend to give less weight to someone having that piece of paper because these days it’s entirely possible for someone to cruise their way through university with private tutoring. All my previous jobs have looked at my experience, tested my abilities and on that based their hiring decisions. I’ve met a few people with degrees in my 7 years working who literally couldn’t even wipe their arse unless it involved writing a Java application to do it for them. I’m not picking on IT graduates here, just that theory is one thing and experience is another.

The company I am seeking employment with here in BC is no different, but in order for me to work for them, immigration has to approve me for a work visa. It is supremely unlikely at this stage that I will be able to get what is called a “Fast Track” work permit. They require the completed degree for this. The fast track would have had me starting in early May However it seems the company is willing to hold the position for me… Even if it takes three months (current estimate) to get a work permit. During that time I will be taking steps so that I complete the remaining two subjects of my degree.. Melody and I have already worked that out at least.

Yesterday was a hard day for both of us before the company called, because if this company hadn’t been able to get us a work permit, we realised no one would be able to. If that happened we would most likely spend our relocation money on flying back to Australia. I would find a job in Bendigo, and complete my course by night classes there. Because once I had that degree, I could apply and get approved for a general work permit allowing me to earn income in Canada. Then we could finally start building a life together.

One way or another Melody and I will build that life.

The future is friendly… apparently… April 17, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in hair, job, love, melody.
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Several things happened today: –

  • My Australian Tax refund arrived. This means we have money to look for an apartment in Vancouver.
  • My Birthday present from my family arrived.
  • I got a haircut. Looks like this…

  • Oh, and I got a call from that company… seems they have a new release engineer called April. Wait a second… that’s me!

*smile*

Now we start looking for a place to live in Vancouver. I’m supposed to be getting a start in the new role on May 1st or thereabouts. It’s going to make for a hectic few weeks.

Finally Melody and I can start making a home together… creating a space that was simply ours as we did when we were living in St. Kilda.

God I love her. This is the first step for us to build a life together….

-April

A little forward momentum… April 16, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in hair, job, tax, vancouver.
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Our Australian tax refund came through today which has allowed us to pay a few bills and also put aside some money for a deposit on a flat in Vancouver.

At the moment we are still waiting to hear from a company about a job that I have applied for. It’s the reference checks that are taking forever because of the time difference between Canada and Australia.

Still, things are slowly moving forward. Once we have a job offer on the table, then we will go into all out apartment hunting mode.

In a short while we are going up to CanWest Mall in Langford to see about getting some groceries and maybe getting me a cheap hair cut. I’ll need it once I start working. I’m really fond of my locks but it would be nice to trim it back to a uniform length (not too short, mind you)…

Maybe just maybe a job… March 25, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in job, vancouver.
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I’ve not posted for a while but a lot has been happening. I applied for a job recently doing software builds and releases – something I have done for many years and enjoyed a lot. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to apply for anything right now since my immigration status is still pending, and that means I cannot work here.

This was one of those job descriptions you read and think to yourself “Wow – this is me – this is what I do!”, so I decided to apply. The recruiter was very eager to speak to me and wanted to arrange an interview with the company (a large firm based in Vancouver). So, last friday we tripped over there on the ferry and I attended the interview with the software development team. I felt really good about the job and that I could bring something to the organization.

They seemed to think so too. Yesterday we were once again in Vancouver doing extra assessments. The word is if they decide to make me a formal offer then they are happy to chase up the work permit for me. Once this is sorted out, Melody and I can settle down somewhere and make a home. We have been missing the daily routine we had in Melbourne and this job will give us the opportunity to make a life here.

I’m just so glad that soon it looks as if we will be able to build that life together. We are tired and sleepy right now, having picked up a cold in Vancouver – heh, it always seems to be raining there when we go. =P


Me on “The Spirit of Vancouver Island” (BC Ferries) clutching a Starbucks decaf for warmth…

-April.

Moose antlers and a pink blouse… January 12, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in job, melody.
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Thats what I found lurking in the dark recesses of my desk when I cleaned out my stuff…

Today marked the culmination of 5 months working as a data migration contractor. 5 months of long days away from Melody, 5 months of sleepless nights and lost weekends.

But I proved to myself I could do it – and I could not have done with without Melody. She has had to suffer this just as much me, even more so. But we got through it.

This was an important thing for me… not just because this job provided rent and food and that elusive plane ticket to Canada, but because of what happened before. Seven months ago I had suffered a breakdown due to excessive stress. Melody helped me to pick up the pieces, and she believed in me even when I had lost the ability to believe in myself.

I was so nervous when I started this job, scared of screwing up. Data migrations on a large scale can be a daunting task at the best of times, but I was absolutely terrified. At that time I was still having nightmares about my previous job, which usually involved my old boss “angry Craig”, as he was known, yelling. I was so hard on myself when I quit, that I should have stuck it out – that I was somehow a coward.

But as I went around the office today and bid my farewell to my colleagues, I felt something I hadn’t felt for a while. I felt good about myself. Suddenly it was like it didn’t matter anymore about my previous job. I felt good about myself. But I think this will be my last data migration – I don’t want to be the star of the show… I just want a job that pays our rent and lets me spend as much time as I can with Melody.

Tomorrow morning its up at six am to go camping in the Grampians. I can’t wait to just spend time away from everything – the city is good in short bursts, but I am a country girl at heart.

Anyway… I guess that’s all for now.

-April

The last week January 8, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in job.
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This Friday marks the end of my contract job. It sure has been an adventure, and the source of many sleepless nights. Back in mid-August, I took over the job of another contractor leaving a project.

My brief was to bring across the customers accounts, services and other data into the target system. Well, my original brief was to mostly be testing… until I found out that the job was not even 50% complete. I remember that first week, meeting Melody in the CBD for lunch, telling her I felt deceived and wasn’t sure I could do this.

Now its T-48 hours until the migration begins for real… I’m working on tidying the last data-issues and some minor bug stomping, and I can’t help feeling good about myself. In the past 5 months, I have pretty much stripped down and rewritten the migration engine from scratch… Sometimes I had to throw days of work out when an assumption changed, or a business requirement appeared or disappeared.

But regardless of what transpires over the next few days… I know that I did my best… and in that I can be satisfied and happy. In three short weeks, my love Melody and I will be on a plane home to her family. This job made that all possible, and for that I will always be grateful.

April

Getting arty… January 8, 2007

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in art, grampians, job.
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I’ve started collecting my art back into one place. It’s about time really, and I suspect when I get to Canada I will have some wonderful inspiration. I found since I started taking very stressful jobs that my creativity fell through the floor.

Well, since this week marks my last at Pacific internet, I hope that the creative juices will start to flow. I’m seriously thinking of taking some art supplies to the pinnacle. That would be fantastic to paint / sketch up there.

Out of Cheese Error November 25, 2006

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in job.
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Argh. It’s 9am on saturday and what am I doing? Trying to find out why ORACLE decides it doesn’t want to import a table I exported yesterday from the very same database.

*sound of head hitting desk*

Looking forward to later though when Melody and I go to William Ricket’s sanctuary though. It’s so lovely and green there, and melody says it reminds her of back home… soon to become my home.

-April

Contract Extension November 10, 2006

Posted by April Ayres-Griffiths in job.
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It seems my contract has been extended until December 22nd, 2006. While this is only just a month past my original, there is scope for me to come in during Jan before we fly to Canada. Yay =D