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Twitter Head of Engineering Acknowledges Lack of Progress on Diversity

In a International Business Times report, Twitter’s senior vice president of engineering Alex Roetter revealed that the company’s diversity woes is a problem, and that the company fails to hire African-Americans and Hispanics even though the two groups are the most active users.

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, Black people comprise 27 percent of all Twitter users and Hispanics 25 percent.

Last week, Roetter responded to the grievances of Twitter employee Leslie Miley, who is the highest ranking non-white employee on Twitter’s engineering team. In Miley’s blog post, he points out that Twitter’s diverse users have not impacted and influenced the hiring practices of the company. In fact, only 3 percent of engineering and product employees at Twitter are African American/Hispanic and less than 15 percent are women according to Miley.

The diversity issue seemed to be addressed during the summer with the announcements of new diversity initiatives but the numbers are still unchanged. Miley recognized the irony of Twitter—while Black activists, have used the social media platform to ignite revolutionary change in the form of hashtags e.g. #ConcernedStudent1950, #BlackLivesMatter and #Ferguson, Twitter has not become representative of the people who utilize it most.

Miley says the company has a long way to go in changing its stance on diversity.

Personally, a particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

Miley further reveals that the few Blacks in tech were completely underrepresented at tech conferences.

Is it because, as one colleague told me, “they forgot that you were black?” Is a prerequisite to working in tech as a minority that one is expected to, in the eyes of the majority, sublimate your racial identity to ensure a cultural fit? In attempting to achieve the appropriate level of blackness that makes me palatable to tech, had I unwittingly erased the importance of maintaining my blackness in a sea of white faces?

Roetter addressed these concerns in a blog post of his own. He wanted to restate that Twitter is grabbing the diversity woes of the company by the horns. In order to do this effectively, he introduced more ideas such as inclusion training to employees that last for longer periods of time, examining employment practices, instructing managers on diversity, and reaching out to HBCUs and Hispanic college graduates.

Many of these solutions were announced prior to Miley’s post during the summer. However, Roetter is steadfast in his belief that these ideas will diversify the company.

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