The tech industry has long been under heavy attack for their lack of diversity and inclusion in the work space. Despite reports and statistics showing the prominent use of technology by minorities, public figures show that many companies still struggle to reflect these numbers behind company doors.
One tech professional is now speaking out about his first-hand experience of being one of very few black professionals at Twitter. In a blog post for Medium, Engineer Leslie Miley explains his experience at the tech company and why he decided to leave after the company failed to recognize its unconscious bias.
According to Pew data, 27% of African Americans, 25% of Hispanics, and 21% of women use Twitter. Yet, only 3% of the company’s engineering and product employees are black/Hispanic, and less than 15% are women. While Miley admits that every day at the company he looked forward to contributing to the platform that gave life to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and a voice to those a part of #BlackTwitter, he was often confused as to “why a company whose product has been used as an agent of revolutionary social change did not reflect the diversity of thought, conversation, and people in its ranks.”
Twitter’s problem with diversity is not only a reflection of the company, but one of the industry as a whole. Earlier this year, Google released an updated report of their workforce numbers which showed that out of the 53,600 people employed by the company in 2014, just 2% of its hires were black and 3% Hispanic.
At a New York Times DealBook conference in Manhattan, Twitter investor Chris Sacca spoke out about the industry’s diversity problem saying, “You have black users over-indexed on Twitter, but you don’t have any representation of that audience in the upper management of the company. That’s weird.”
In his post, Miley recalls one of his low points at the company, which came when he sat in as the only African American at an engineering leadership meeting and heard the Sr. VP of engineering say “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.”
Following the meeting, Miley says he worked on a job proposal that would help the company boost its diversity numbers, but recognized that the company’s diversity issue was bigger than him when he was advised to track the pipeline of candidates by creating a tool that would analyze their last name in order to help determine their ethnicity.
“As an engineer, I understand this suggestion and why it may seem logical. However, classifying [ethnicities] by name is problematic …” wrote Miley.
Since the return of Jack Dorsey, the company has made public its commitment to increasing diversity by improving its overall number of women and ethnic minority employees. While Miley details his experience with the company’s lack of diversity in thought and action, he says that Dorsey “understands how diversity can be additive to growth.”