Twitter CEO Addresses Diversity Woes At National Society of Black Engineers Convention

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Photo by Richard Drew for the Associated Press
Photo by Richard Drew for the Associated Press

After months of battling ongoing diversity issues at Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey talked to the National Society of Black Engineers at their annual convention last Friday in Boston about inclusion at the social media company.

The organization, founded in 1971 by two Purdue undergraduate students, has grown to include an estimated 30,000 members. Through vigilant networking, the organization is one of the nation’s biggest Black professional groups. It has provided jobs, scholarships, mentors and other valuable resources to working Black engineers.

The Twitter CEO was in the hot seat after recent and recurring accusations about diversity issues in the company stemming from former employee complaints and public outrage over hirings. Laura W. Powers, co-founder of CODE2040, spoke with Dorsey in front of a crowd of NSBE members about those diversity woes and the company’s plan to include more people of color in its workforce.

“The only way we are going to be creative is to have perspective from all over,” said Dorsey. “We are not going to be relevant unless we are inclusive, unless we are representative of who we serve.”

The company came under fire for hiring Apple’s former diversity chief Jeffrey Siminoff to replace Janet Van Huysse as Twitter’s vice president of diversity and inclusion. They both are white. Twitter users wanted a person of color to fill that position.

Last year, Atlanta Black Star reported that the company had issues employing Black women. The company has a comprehensible plan to reach out to HBCUS and increase underrepresented groups through outreach events at professional organizations and student groups at universities nationwide.

  • Increase women overall to 35 percent
  • Increase women in tech roles to 16 percent
  • Increase women in leadership roles to 25 percent
  • Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11 percent
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9 percent
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6 percent

Twitter has seen a boost from Black and Hispanic users who have been the most active in the past few years. The social justice movement Black Lives Matter and the vibrant Black Twitter have been a testament to the research and figures released by the Pew Research Center 2013 study. According to Pew, Black people use the social media site the most with 29 percent. Hispanics and white users hold strong at second with 16 percent.

Dorsey’s trip to the NSBE may be part of that desire to reach out to Black professionals.

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