Tim Cook says diversity is key to great companies

Tim Cook in 90 seconds
Tim Cook in 90 seconds

Technology and diversity are the key to a strong corporate America, says Apple CEO Tim Cook, which is why his company is giving iPads and Macs to public schools around the country.

"Inclusion of diversity inspires innovation," said Cook, in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" at a middle school in his home state of Alabama. "The best companies in the land will be the most diverse."

Cook visited a sixth-grade class in Tuskegee, a city that looms large in African-American history to talk about the ConnectED Inititaive, a government program to improve technology at public schools.

Apple says that 92% of the students at the schools its partnered with for this program are of Hispanic, Black, Native American, Alaskan Native or Asian heritage.

"I would not be where I am today without a great public education," said Cook, who still speaks with a light Southern accent. "Too many kids aren't given a good public education. It's not fair."

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Apple is giving iPads and Macs to students and teachers at 114 schools in 29 states, as part of its $100 million commitment to the program. Classrooms are also being outfitted with Apple TVs, speakers and projectors.

President Obama's ConnectED Initiative is a $10 billion plan to improve K-12 education by boosting broadband connectivity nationwide. Apple, Microsoft (MSFT), Sprint (S) and Verizon (VZ) are all supporters of the program.

Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative in June 2013. According to the White House, fewer than 40% of America's schools had access to broadband at the outset of the program. Obama wants to raise that to 99% by 2018.

Cook said that kids growing up in the digital age are often restricted to analog technologies in the classroom, and that's what he wants to change.

When asked what else the technology sector can do to help students, Cook replied, "There has to be more role models." He said that "tech has not done a great job" in providing strong role models.

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