National civil rights groups say they are tired of the lip service from major U.S. tech companies that have pledged to make their staffs more racially diverse. The activists said this week that despite announced plans at Twitter to hire more African-American and Latino employees, the results have been a disappointment.
“Black people are greater users of the product and capable of doing the jobs, but there has not been an adequate commitment to hire, train and maintain [black people],” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the veteran civil rights leader and president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition. He told the Guardian that the black community was “becoming intolerant” of the lack of progress.
Twitter currently employs just 49 black people – 35 men and 14 women -- out of a 2,910 workforce that is majority white and Asian. The staff doesn’t reflect the diversity of Twitter’s 302 million users. African-Americans comprised 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 census, but they used Twitter disproportionately more than whites, according to a Pew Center Research survey.
The influence of the #BlackTwitter, an activist-minded group of Twitter users that drove social media response to police shootings and brutality protests in the last year, is evidence of user diversity, the activists have said.
Arisha Hatch, managing director at Color of Change, an advocacy group for racial equality, told the Guardian that Twitter and other tech companies “really failed” to meet their own goals on staff diversity. “It appears that the tech companies seem to treat it as a public relations issue rather than addressing the actual problem,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the company said Twitter is aware that it has a “vibrant and demographic user base and [that helps] advertisers connect with their target market, whether it be moms, millennials, teens, the multicultural population, or any other demographic.”
The spokeswoman also said the ethnic makeup of Twitter’s staff had changed since the last public release of staff data. But Twitter would not provide the latest figures before their scheduled release “some time this year,” the Guardian reported.