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- At a company all-hands meeting on Tuesday, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel addressed concerns of racism at the company but said he would not release diversity numbers, sources told Business Insider.
- Snap’s decision not to release diversity reports is a break from major tech companies, which have generally released their diversity numbers to the public.
- The CEO told employees that the company’s diversity breakdown was in line with those of other Silicon Valley tech companies, which heavily skew white and male.
- In a transcript provided to Business Insider after this article published, Spiegel said the company was working on “our own new version of a diversity report,” and a spokesperson said it was “exploring how best to do that in the near term.”
- The company and Spiegel have been outspoken about their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but former Snapchat employees recently told Mashable that they experienced a racist culture, including from leadership, while working for the company.
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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said at an employee all-hands meeting on Tuesday that the company would continue to keep its diversity report private, according to notes from the meeting obtained by Business Insider and confirmed by current employees.
At the meeting, Spiegel said releasing diversity data would reinforce the idea that minority groups are underrepresented in the tech industry. The implication, one source told Business Insider, was that the report would make the company look bad at a time of increased focus on representation.
Spiegel told employees that the company’s diversity numbers were in line with those at other tech companies, which have long skewed white and male. His comments come just days after former employees shared accusations on Twitter of racism they experienced and witnessed while working at Snapchat.
After this article published, Snap sent Business Insider a transcript of the Q&A session, which is embedded in full below and confirmed Spiegel’s statement. In response to a question from a staffer over whether Snap would release its diversity numbers, the Snap CEO said: “I’ve always been concerned that releasing that data publicly only reinforces the perception that tech is not a place for underrepresented groups.” He then added that Snap would be working on “our own new version of a diversity report,” which a spokesperson confirmed.
“We are exploring how best to do that in the near term,” the Snap spokesperson said. The spokesperson declined to provide more detail about what that report would look like or when it would be released.
Since Snapchat’s founding in 2011, the company has never released a diversity report to the public. Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, hired its first head of diversity and inclusion in 2019.
Major players in Silicon Valley started providing diversity reports in 2014, giving the public a glimpse into the demographic breakdown of their colossal workforces. In 2019 diversity reports, Google reported women made up only 32% of its employees and that only 9.6% were Black or Latinx. At Facebook, only 9% of its workforce were Black or Latinx. Twitter reported earlier this year that Latinx and Black employees made up about 11% of its workforce, while Apple says that 23% of its workers identify as Black or Latinx as of 2018.
Spiegel also took time during the Q&A session to dispute the allegations of racism and “shrinking diversity” that were made on Twitter and reported by Mashable, the employees said. Former employees who identify as people of color told Mashable they experienced a racist culture, including from leadership, while working for Snapchat between 2015 and 2018. Managers censored or minimized coverage of predominantly Black content, including Black Lives Matter activity in 2016 and the hip-hop music festival Rolling Loud, according to the report.
Spiegel told employees the company was investigating the incidents and defended the company’s hiring practices to employees. According to sources, Spiegel said the company would make sure it was looking at a diverse array of candidates but did not specify what Snap would do.
These allegations of a racist culture at Snapchat have come to light in the middle of global Black Lives Matter demonstrations, spurred by the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody. The protests against police brutality have given way to calls for accountability across industries, exposing systemic racist behavior that’s led to the ousting of CEOs and executives at major brands and publications.
Snapchat was initially celebrated for its response to the protests, especially as other major tech companies were largely criticized for their statements or lack of action. Spiegel said it would no longer promote President Donald Trump’s content on the Discover section of its app after the commander in chief tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The CEO said Snapchat would “not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice.”
Additionally, many praised Spiegel for a memo he sent to employees on June 1, when he advocated for systemic and nationwide change. But the statement also led to a deluge of former employees, many of whom are people of color, taking to Twitter to rebut Snap’s statement with their own stories of working at the company. They described instances in which they dealt with problematic behavior from leadership that was overwhelmingly white and put their jobs at risk to push for diversity in editorial content.
Thursday was Snap’s Partner Summit, which is taking place virtually.
Spiegel’s full answer to an employee who asked if Snap would publicly release a diversity report is embedded below.
EVAN SPIEGEL, CEO: This is something we’ve talked about for a while. I know I’ve shared this with all of you before. I’m extremely concerned and I have been concerned, that those diversity reports effectively normalize the current makeup of the tech industry, of which Snapchat’s in line. So I’ve always been concerned that releasing that data publicly, only reinforces the perception that tech is not a place for underrepresented groups. And that’s something that really worries me. And I’m concerned that, that doesn’t lead to positive change. What we have done, of course, is continue to release that report internally, which I think can be a catalyst for positive change here.
So what we’re now talking about, and what Oona and I have talked about in the past, is trying to come up with our own new version of a diversity report, that’s less static, that’s less sort of talking about here’s what it is. And more putting that in context and helping people understand our strategy and approach for driving change, and holding ourselves accountable to that. That I think could help create change here. And that’s something I’d be excited about. So I really want to make sure that we’re not frankly, falling into the trap that I think other companies have, which is to normalize the current representation of the tech industry, and to show that it’s not changing at all. Right? Which is what we’ve seen more broadly in the industry. But instead to use that sort of reporting to catalyze change, which is something we’ve done internally.
So we’re going to try and take a bunch of the learnings from what we’ve done internally, to help drive change and the new diversity dashboards and things like that, to try to create something that hopefully would inspire people rather than, in my view, the current diversity reporting that just normalizes the current composition of the tech community. So definitely, as I mentioned before, open to changing my mind here. I really want to make sure that what we do makes a positive difference, but it doesn’t normalize and even ossify the current tech structure.
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