Despite Using MLK for Advertisement, Apple Doesn’t Observe MLK Day

By Aura Bogado Jan 15, 2015

Google does it. So does Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. 

But Apple refuses to observe Martin Luther King Day. That means corporate employees for the company that uses MLK in its own advertising, and whose CEO, Tim Cook, touts his commitment to diversity and has a photo of MLK in his office, have to work on the holiday that celebrates him. Writing for ValleyWag (which, as part of Gawker doesn’t observe MLK Day, either–but also doesn’t run ads with MLK in them), Dan Lyons wonders why:

I believe Tim Cook is sincerely committed to diversity. Apple’s top management team isn’t exactly the most diverse group of people you’ve ever seen, but it is better now, under Cook, than it was under Steve Jobs.

In the Jobs era, the Apple management team had zero people of color. Now there are two. That is Cook’s doing.

So why not observe MLK Day? After all the news that came out last year about the dismal diversity statistics in the Valley, not observing the holiday looks pretty tone-deaf. And it is not often that Apple is accused of being tone deaf. If there is one thing Apple has always been good at, it’s marketing and PR and image management.

To be fair: Apple also does not give employees paid holidays on Presidents’ Day or Columbus Day []

Cook did give corporate workers extra days off around Thanksgiving in 2014, though. These holidays apply to corporate employees–not Apple Store employees. 

Apple’s not alone. Only 37 percent of employers will give their workers a paid day off this coming Monday, which became a federal holiday 15 years after a bill to do so was first introduced in 1968. South Carolina didn’t recognize the holiday until 2000. Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, meanwhile, observe the day but also celebrate Confederate General and slaveowner Robert E. Lee’s birthday. 

Oh, and for full disclosure: Colorlines is published by Race Forward–which most certainly observes and gives employees the day off on Martin Luther King Day.