Who is Cynthia Bowman, the new Apple head of diversity?

BY Preta Peace Namasaba May 26, 2024 12:35 PM EDT
Apple Head of Diversity, Cynthia Bowman. Photo Credit: Youtube

Cynthia Bowman has recently been appointed as Apple‘s new Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity. She is the fourth person to step into the role and takes over from Barbara Whye, who plans to retire in the fall. Bowman will report to Apple’s chief people officer, Carol Surface, and work with groups within the company to support diversity. She will take responsibility for Apple’s $200 million flagship Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which focuses on economic equality, education, and criminal justice reform.

“Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is embedded in all that we do, so it is an integral part of our business strategy. It’s not viewed as a separate initiative. We’re all accountable for helping to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. We operate in diverse environments, and in order to most effectively service our clients and customers we need to reflect our communities,” Bowman explained her specific role and its relationship to business strategy.

But who is Cynthia Bowman?

Described as “an accomplished leader in her field,” Bowman has decades of experience in advancing inclusion and diversity. She graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and went on to earn a bachelor of industrial engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Bowman started her career at AT&T and was a Partner at Accenture where she was responsible for the deployment of performance sales and consulting projects.

In 2007, she joined Bank of America as senior vice president, of leadership development. Bowman served in various leadership roles throughout Global Human Resources during her 17-year tenure with the company. Her most recent position was as global head of diversity & inclusion and corporate social responsibility, serving as the chief strategist leading programs, initiatives, and policies that help drive responsible growth for Bank of America globally.

Bowman also helped steer the bank’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, which is chaired by the CEO and comprised of senior leaders from across the company. The council led Bank of America’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Organization (GDIO), which notably had oversight of the employee networks for more than 180,000 memberships and allies across the globe. Additionally, she led a team of talent acquisition professionals responsible for filling tens of thousands of positions annually with the highest quality candidates to meet business needs. Bowman partnered with the lines of business and the bank’s GDIO to drive key talent outcomes across the enterprise in both roles.

“It’s about creating a workforce that looks like the world we live in across every level, including senior leadership. It’s about creating an environment where people don’t feel like they need to be someone else from the time they walk into work to the time they leave. It’s about creating processes that diminish bias, allow you to promote within, and generate more inclusion in our everyday practices from the time you hire, how you onboard, how you conduct calibrations, how you retain talent, how you recognize talent and how talent leads your organization,” Bowman said about how organizations meet their diversity and inclusion goals.

As Apple continues its efforts to increase diversity within its workforce, Bowman holds a key role in ensuring that the tech giant meets its diversity goals. From 2014 to 2022, the percentage of Black employees at the company in America rose from 7% to 9%, and the percentage of women increased from 30% to 35%. Bowman has previously focused on addressing barriers to hiring and career advancement that disproportionately affect workers of color. This includes reevaluating degree requirements for career development and employee retention. During her tenure, Bank of America achieved the 11th position for workforce equity and mobility.

Bowman is engaged in civic and community empowerment initiatives. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (Midwestern Region) and The Sphinx Organization Board of Directors. She also sits on the board of the Forte Foundation and is also a member of the 30% club steering committee and the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) advisory board. She recently joined the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Corporate Advisory Board on Diversity and Inclusion.