In real world it is not so easy to choose the “most qualified people”.
Being “qualified” for a job is not something simple to assess (or achieve), like a college score or a “cum laude” degree.
Outside of Academia, most of the abilities that you need to be “qualified” for a job are gained by putting your skin in the game (i.e. by gradually gaining experiences and achieving results with increasingly complex tasks).
If candidates are not given the opportunity to put their skin in the game, they will never gain these abilities and eventually they will never be “qualified” for a job.
This is a self-perpetuating vicious circle which has been proved very difficult to break in the corporate world: if white males keep hiring only white males candidates, there will only be white males at the office and only white males will eventually put their skin in the game and be the most qualified.
This is not just a matter of gender equality or political correctness: lack of diversity stifles innovation in the workspace because new ideas spurt out of diversity and by adopting (and mixing) new approaches to old problems.
In my personal experience, law firms and investment banks are probably the most glaring examples of working environments where – except of the occasional leaflet left by HR in the canteen – the standard hiring mentality is stubbornly against accepting/allowing diversity in the workspace and in fact most of them show decades-long dwarfed rates of innovation.
They can go away with it because the market sector where they operate is firmly in their hands and cannot be easily disrupted (thanks to legal barriers which have been shaped through many decades of lobbying and perpetuation of status-quo).
This is not the case for the tech and other sectors where “new ideas” are potentially able to completely disrupt entire markets in a matter of just a few months.
“New ideas” are the golden currency of our era and companies like Apple know that to get them “inside” their workspace is an order of magnitude cheaper than “buying” them on the market.
Apple knows that if they want to keep coming up with new ideas at all levels (from their boxes, to their laptops, from a logistic process to an internet service, etc.) it is crucial to have a diversified working environment and for this reason they have decided to try to tackle this issue boldly under Tim Cook’s helm.
Also, I believe that giving opportunities to gain exposure & experience in the workspace to all candidates regardless of sex, race, etc. is the right thing to do.