Twitter just released its second round of diversity data, and somehow the company has managed to get worse. Not a single Black person in leadership--is this the "diversity" interim CEO Jack Dorsey and VP of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Van Huysse are interested in?1
More than a year ago, Twitter made a promise to step up its diversity efforts.2 After revealing that the company’s workforce was just two percent Black, the leadership at Twitter vowed to make sure its recruiting, hiring and promotion practices reflected the diverse user base that the company has.
Keeping this promise shouldn’t be merely an option for Twitter. Forty percent of Black people between the ages of 18 and 29 use the site, compared to only 28 percent of white adults.3 Twitter cannot remain culturally relevant without hiring more Black men and women to influence its service. And that begins with actively searching for talent to fill open positions.
Tell Twitter: We want more than just a disclosure of corporate diversity numbers. We want to see changes made to the corporation’s hiring policies and practices. With hundreds of open positions, Twitter has a real opportunity to hire more Black men and women, but that will only happen if hiring managers are required to assemble diverse applicant pools that include people from underrepresented backgrounds before making a hire.
The latest diversity report from Twitter is just more empty promises on the importance of hiring Black people. @Jack and @Janet, when will we see a change?
This isn’t about quotas; Twitter has an impact on its Black users. It can be positive, as evidenced by its role in on-the-ground communication during critical moments over the past year. But it also has the potential to negatively impact Black communities. Information shared on Twitter by Black users can be misused to discriminate or surveil individuals who organize in Black communities or use pro-Black speech.4 The weight of these examples show how important it is for a company that produces a service like Twitter to have Black input at every level of decision-making.
A year after its initial release of diversity numbers that showed close to no Black employment within the ranks at Twitter, it’s time for the company to get specific about its recruitment and hiring policies with respect to diversity. Before it can even begin to implement a hiring process that will diversify its company, Twitter has to make a commitment to finding talented Black men and women who could fill those positions. Blaming the pipeline won’t work here; colleges and universities are turning out Black engineering and computer science graduates at twice the rate that Silicon Valley will hire them.5 This means that there is already a wealth of Black engineers that Twitter can tap to fill open positions.
Twitter needs a more aggressive recruitment strategy and, most importantly, to include mandatory percentages of Black applicants in any hiring pool that it draws talent from. In its San Francisco headquarters alone, Twitter has more than 200 current job openings. The only way to make sure that the majority of those positions aren’t filled with the same mostly white, mostly male candidates that the company favors is to hold Twitter’s leadership accountable for committing to finding a diverse pool of applicants.
The only way for Twitter to move past diversity talk and into action is if we collectively tell it that a year is enough.
Thanks and Peace,
Arisha, Rashad, Brandi, Brittaney and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
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1. "We’re committing to a more diverse Twitter," Twitter Blogs, 8-28-2015
2. "Building a Twitter We Can Be Proud Of," Twitter Blogs, 7-23-2014
3. "African Americans and Technology Use," Pew Research Center, 1-6-2014
4. "Black Lives Matter Protests Monitored By Federal Department Of Homeland Security Since Ferguson: Report," International Business Times, 7-26-2015
5. "Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don't get hired," USA Today, 10-13-2014
6. "Diversity in Tech," Wall Street Journal, 7-13-2015
7. "Managing Unconscious Bias," Facebook Newsroom, 7-28-2015
8. "Our Plan for a More Diverse Pinterest," Pinterest Blog, 7-30-2015