Twitter’s recent lay-offs have disproportionately affected African-Americans and Hispanics, believes Rev. Jesse Jackson. As clarification, Jackson asked the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey to release a “specific accounting” by race.
Twitter unfair to minorities?
In a letter to Dorsey, Jackson asked him to make a public disclosure of the number and percentage of underrepresented minorities laid off last month when Twitter downsized. Jackson wrote that the number and percentage of African Americans and Latinos working at Twitter is appallingly low with just 60 in the workforce and none in its boardroom or C-suite leadership.
Jackson told the media in an interview that Twitter’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, Janet Van Huysse, assured him that there was no disproportionate affect on the underrepresented minorities in the layoffs but didn’t provide any specifics. Jackson has again made a request to Twitter to release the breakdown.
“We will insist on it. So far, Twitter has been the most resistant to give us their data and then they are giving us resistance to giving us this additional data,” Jackson said.
In a statement, Twitter spokeswoman Natalie Miyake said the restructuring had no adverse impact on the underrepresented groups. Miyake said the company will continue its diversity efforts and believes it is on track to achieve its 2016 representation goals.
Dorsey committed to diversity
Jackson’s letter follows a Medium post from Leslie Miley, an African-American engineer who was let go by Twitter in October. In the post, she accused the microblogging firm of not being fully committed to diversity. However, Miley believes that Dorsey is committed to the diversity goals. “The return of Jack Dorsey has the potential to change the diversity trajectory for Twitter,” Miley wrote.
Twitter is very popular among African-Americans. According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, more than 25% of black Internet users are on Twitter, and this rate is higher than that of any other ethnic group. Dorsey has spoken several times on the social media-fueled power of the Black Lives Matter movement.
About 41% of U.S. users on Twitter are Black, Hispanic and Asian-American, making it the most racially diverse social network, ahead of even Facebook. Leveraging its wide diversity of users, Twitter has attracted advertising from major brands that intend to target those groups.