Apple boss Tim Cook has ordered that shop staff be retrained on “inclusion and customer engagement” after a group of black teenagers was told to leave a store in Melbourne, Australia because staff were worried they “might steal something”.
A video of the interaction between a Highpoint Apple store staff member and a group of students was uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday night and has now been shared more than 222,400 times.
In a letter to staff obtained by Buzzfeed News Cook called the situation “unacceptable”.
“What people have seen and heard from watching the video on the web does not represent our values. It is not a message we would ever want to deliver to a customer or hear ourselves,” Cook wrote in the companywide email. “None of us are happy with the way this was handled.
“Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement. These are concepts and practices they know well, but can always stand to reinforce,” he wrote.
The video shows six boys from Maribyrnong College being denied entry to the Apple store by a staff member and two security guards. “These guys [security guards] are just a bit worried about your presence in our store. They’re just worried you might steal something,” the Apple staff member says in the video. A member of the group replied: “Why would we steal something?”
Cook cites comments by “Kate, one of the senior managers at the Highpoint store” who met with the group to apologise. “She reassured these young men that they and their fellow classmates would always be welcome at our store. The school’s principal later told a reporter that she delivered her message ‘with good grace’, and one of the students said, ‘It feels like we have justice now.’ Her words that day echoed a message you’ve heard many times from me and from Angela [Ahrendts, senior vice-president of retail and online stores]. It’s a simple pledge we all make to our customers and to ourselves: Apple is open,” wrote Cook.
This article was written by Dominic Rushe, for theguardian.com on Friday 13th November 2015 20.22 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010