Category Archives: News

To Improve Workplace Diversity, Undo Workplace Racism

improve workplace diversity

I’ve participated in many panels on diversity and inclusion. I will participate in many more, and gladly. But D&I — as we tend to call it — brings with it some risks: it mutes the tragic reality that the reason we can’t improve D&I is the same reason the country is in upheaval right now. Recruiting, Hiring, Promotions and Development all suffer from the same national virus — the other virus — and that’s racism.

I’m calling us out on this, because that’s the way to fix it. We need to fix it, and that means being more direct. The truth is, you’re not going to see a major HR conference with a presentation on “Fixing Racist Hiring Practices.” You’re not going to see too many posts by thought leaders on exactly why bias is so hard to undo. We tend to filter everything through an aspirational lens. We don’t want to admit the ugly — things are stressful enough, and it’s possible that we’re afraid the delicate balance of mission and culture and business would be completely thrown for a loop if we started pulling back the veil.

So we stick to terms like diversity and inclusion, and shorten it to a chirpier D&I. All well and good, except for the fact that if we leave out the root causes, we’re not addressing the problem. And we need to. Hundreds of thousands are still marching and we’re into the third week of Black Lives Matter protests. New legislation and pending laws are being enacted that were until recently stalled in paralysis. The country needs to change. And it is changing.

So it’s time to lean into your work culture and your company values right now, not just your business. Commit to the hard work now. If there’s a business case to be made for diversity and inclusion — and there is, then there’s also a business case for confronting racism within your doors right now. If you don’t, you won’t be able to successfully conquer bias or diversify your workforce. Socially, culturally and likely business-wise, you’ll be left behind.

Investigate and Acknowledge

The first step to solving a problem is to admit you have a problem. This isn’t easy. One way is simply to close your eyes and imagine a workplace, with employees doing what employees do: gathering, working, talking, collaborating, asking questions, having conversations. Now ask yourself: What’s the prevailing skin tone? What does a generic employee look like to you? Don’t gloss over the answer.

You can extend this exercise out to managers and then into the workplace by creating the means for people to anonymously record their answers. Use the power of data here to report the findings, without pointing any fingers. Get involved in a VR-powered program in which employees can step into each other’s experience and raise their awareness of what it means to be a person of color in the workplace. Uncover all the microaggressions that may take place, the moments of assumption and intolerance. Inventory the behaviors in the workplace as if you’re inventorying any tangible holdings in your organization. Then, commit to doing more, and hold the entire workplace accountable.

Fix Leadership

The fact that we’re seeing a host of leaders stepping down or shifting gears is a good thing. It’s happening fast, particularly online and in the media. But they’re not always resigning in honor. Of those are: Reddit’s cofounder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the board of directors and called on the company to replace him with a black candidate. Refinery29’s Co-founder and Christene Barberich is resigning from her role as Global editor-in-Chief, ““to help diversify our leadership in editorial and ensure this brand and the people it touches can spark a new defining chapter.”

Of those who aren’t: The NYTimes’ opinion editor James Bennett resigned after he ran an inflammatory Op-Ed by Senator Tom Cotton that wasn’t vetted thoroughly. Publisher A.G. Sulzberger aptly blamed a “significant breakdown” in the Times’ usual editing process, showing how a leader should react. Canadian Pay2Day CEO Wesley Barker resigned after sending a tone-deaf letter instructing employees not to support Black Lives Matter. Damage control came in the form of the president and co-founder, who said, essentially, Barker’s letter isn’t what the firm stands for. Public pressure is consumer pressure; consumer pressure is business pressure. We’re in a recession, officially. No organization has the luxury to throw consumers away.

Take a Stand

There are plenty of leaders that are taking a stand, and it’s a start. Kudos to Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon, and Larry Fink — all CEOS of major public companies that are predominantly white and male, but all saying they know they have to do more. So has Nike’s CEO John Donahoe — and then pledged $40 million to help black communities over the next four years. The change that actually happens will say a lot about the strength (and integrity) of leadership; the change that doesn’t will reveal the weakness. But all of these execs have pointed at their own organizations and admitted there’s a problem, and are all working to create a committed response.

But we still need more POC on boards and in leadership roles. We need more POC making the key decisions that undo a long history wrought by those in power. There are all of four black male CEOs and zero black women CEOs in Fortune 500s. Of the men, their responses to the murder of George Floyd have been revelatory. Merck’s CEO Ken Frazier said that as an African American man, he could have been Floyd: “This African American man, who could be me or any other African American man, is being treated as less than human.” That is not the way CEOs tend to talk. And maybe that’s a problem as well.

Improve Psychological Safety 

My firm puts out a weekly newsletter, and we often include a survey on a current issue facing the world of work. Last week we asked two simple questions: Have you ever experienced racism in your workplace? Have you ever reported racism in your workplace? Subscribers jumped on it, and the answers were stunning. 39.7 percent reported experiencing racism first hand, and 23.8 percent said they had witnessed racism directed at a coworker. But here’s the heartbreaker: only 4.8 percent reported an instance of racism in their workplace.

How can you make it safer for employees to report a perceived injustice without fear of reprisal? How can you take down the barriers for reporting? Check your policies on handling racial harassment; then check your records. What’s the outcome most of the time? And what happens to the person who reported it?  Are we more concerned with the prospect of a repeat claimant than concerned with what they’re reporting? We talk about listening a lot in HR these days. Great opportunity, right here.

Stop Blaming the Equipment

Systemic racism in the workplace — whether it’s harassment, lack of representation or the inability to promote employees of color isn’t the fault of technology. Yes, artificial intelligence can help in recruiting and hiring as it can screen out bias if programmed to do so. But we are using AI in recruiting and hiring, and it is not overcoming the problem.

Google’s 2018–2019 diversity report revealed that despite efforts, black hires saw a tiny increase —  from 4.8 to 5.5 percent. Yet one of Google’s most highly touted innovations is an AI tool for hiring. And in 2018, 67 percent of hiring managers and recruiters in LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends survey said AI was saving them time in the hiring process. At the root of this disconnect is the assumption that AI will magically override bias. But if the bias is built into the AI, it won’t. It starts with the human decisions that set AI on its course, not the technology.

An NPR report looked at labor department statistics and found the unemployment rate for blacks has skyrocketed — from its lowest point, 5.8 percent, in February, to three times as much, 16.8 percent, in May. We are still in the grips of a pandemic, which has hit people of color disproportionately harder than it’s hit whites. And as I write this, the funeral for George Floyd is wrapping up, with calls from his family to continue to rally and push for justice. People are still marching, and there are no plans to stop.

The imbalances of the country are reflected, and exacerbated, in the imbalances in the workforce. Calling out racism is a necessary step in the national conversation just as it is in the business conversation.  And if we can commit to righting the wrongs in our own organizations, if we can acknowledge there’s a deeper problem than filling a quota or making a gesture, then we will truly be setting a course for a better future of work.

BBC to Invest $124 Million of Content Spend on Diverse Productions, Talent

BBC Diversity investment

U.K. public service broadcaster BBC has set out a ‘Creative Diversity Commitment’ that will see the corporation spend £100 million ($124 million) of its existing commissioning budget over three years on diverse and inclusive content.

The fund will apply to a range of genres, and will also include children’s programming, education and current affairs. It will support the BBC’s Diversity Code of Practice, and commit the corporation to create content with at least two of the following three priorities: diverse stories and portrayal on-screen; diverse production teams and talent; and diverse-led production companies. Progress will be reported in the BBC’s Annual Report.

The BBC will also instate a mandatory 20% diverse-talent target across all new network commissions from April 2021.

The commitment comes just one day after more than 3,500 members of the U.K.’s film and TV industry, including “Luther” star Idris Elba, “I May Destroy You” creator Michaela Coel and actor Colin Firth, signed an open letter demanding “strategic commitments” to representation.

“With this commitment, the BBC is throwing open its doors more widely than ever to diverse stories and diverse storytellers,” said the org. “The media industry is not changing fast enough. The BBC has been committed to creative diversity and inclusion for 100 years; but we now want to go further.”

Outdoing BBC director general Tony Hall said, “The senseless killing of George Floyd — and what it tells us about the stain of systemic racism — has had a profound impact on all of us. It’s made us question ourselves about what more we can do to help tackle racism — and drive inclusion within our organization and in society as a whole.

“This is our response — it’s going to drive change in what we make and who makes it. It’s a big leap forward, and we’ll have more to announce in the coming weeks.”

June Sarpong, newly installed director of creative diversity, added: “I came to the BBC as an outsider. Before joining, I had an idea of this being an organization that did not want to change. What I found was something different: an organization that had ambitious goals for diversity and inclusion but didn’t know how to reach them. This commitment will help to drive real change that will be felt by all audiences. It will also create a strong framework to help diverse storytellers succeed at all levels of the industry.

“As director of creative diversity, I’m pleased that we’re announcing this fund as the first of a series of bold steps that will help make the BBC an instrument of real change. As a black woman, I feel and share in the pain that so many are feeling worldwide. It makes it all the more important that we show up now not just with words but with meaningful action.”

Recalling a conversation with “Small Axe” director Steve McQueen, Charlotte Moore, director of content, said the filmmaker had challenged her and the BBC to set “meaningful targets and take proper action.”

“He was right. Today’s announcement represents a truly transformational commitment to both on and off screen representation. Concrete, tangible action is the only way we can bring about real sustainable change,” said Moore.

The BBC will also set out further plans in other production areas in the coming weeks, in addition to a host of other action items on the org’s list going forward:

  • The corporation has said it plans to run regular meet and greets across the country, to enable talent from traditionally under-represented minority groups to engage with BBC staff and external suppliers who shape the creative output.
  • It is also working towards developing a “comprehensive diverse digital database” for the industry, and an accelerator program for on and off-screen diverse talent.
  • The BBC will also work with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative on the ‘Belonging Blueprint’, a project aimed at establishing new practices to create wider access to entertainment industry jobs for traditionally marginalized individuals.
  • The broadcaster will also continue to prioritize investing and developing diverse leaders at the BBC. The newly appointed senior leadership advisors — two per leadership group — act as senior executives and bring fresh perspectives to each leadership board. They will receive development and training over the next year while they are in post.
  • Meanwhile, the Creative Diversity Unit, led by Sarpong, will publish a new strategy over the summer. The strategy will support the Belonging Blueprint, and the inclusion toolkit, a set of guidance and tools to help the BBC’s creative staff and industry partners ensure diversity and inclusion is at the heart of production.
  • Later this year, the BBC will also publish a detailed Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice report at the same time as the Annual Report and Accounts.

Hollywood says Black Lives Matter, but more diversity needed

da 5 bloods

 As protests erupted across the country following the death of George Floyd, every major entertainment company in Hollywood issued statements of support for the black community.

But as unanimous as that show of solidarity was, it was also clear that this wasn’t a fight Hollywood could watch from the sidelines. As the uproar over “Gone With the Wind” showed, the movie industry has a past — and present — to reckon with. At a recent protest in Los Angeles organized by major talent agencies, actor Michael B. Jordan turned his focus to the studio headquarters around him.

“Where is the challenge to commit to black hiring? Black content led by black executives, black consultants,” said Jordan. “Are you policing our storytelling as well?”

Hollywood’s record in diversity and inclusion has improved in recent years, but it still lags behind the population — particularly in its executive ranks. (It’s easier, Spike Lee has joked, to get a black president than a black studio head.) Statements and donations are well and good, many say, but Hollywood studios and production companies can speak far louder by green-lighting diverse movies — and reexamining those who do the green-lighting.

“This is a golden opportunity for Hollywood to look at itself in the mirror and decide what side of history it wants to be on,” says Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at UCLA.

UCLA’s annual Hollywood diversity report has found a notable increase in lead acting roles in the most popular films in recent years. Researchers argue diversity is good business. People of color, data shows, often buy more than half of tickets to the most successful films.

But Hunt has also found a lack of systemic change. Some 93% of senior executive positions at major and mid-major studios are held by white people and 80% by men. He has outlined a five-point strategy for more meaningful progress, from the bottom up.

“Every institution in our society to the extent that it’s not helping to eradicate the problem is complicit to a some degree. I would argue that Hollywood stands right at the center of that,” says Hunt. “When you have an industry that’s structured around white men in control, it echoes the white supremacy that’s at the core of the critique of policing right now.”

Five years ago, after the Academy Awards fielded all-white acting nominees, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became a rallying cry. The industry and the film academy have changed since then but it hasn’t happened overnight. At this year’s Oscars, the South Korean film “Parasite” made history for non-English language films but the awards still featured only one acting nominee of color.

Now, at a defining moment for race in America, some in the industry leaders believe stronger steps are necessary. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last week said it will make new inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility. Hunt, who has consulted on that initiative, said it could apply to either the diversity of individual films or a distributor’s overall record of inclusion.

The Writers Guild of America West, in an open letter from its Committee of Black Writers to industry leaders, demanded action, not words.

“Either you commit to a new, institutionalized system of accountability with and to black writers, or you prove that you’re putting on just another strategic, virtue-signaling performance deemed necessary to survive the times,” read the letter.

The debate recently stirred by “Gone With the Wind,” only highlighted what’s at stake.

After pressure from filmmakers including “12 Years a Slave” producer John Ridley, HBO Max temporarily removed the 1939 film. The highest grossing movie of all time despite its glamorized portrait of slavery in the Antebellum South, “Gone With the Wind” is part of an ignoble Hollywood legacy stretching back to “The Birth of a Nation.” When the film returns to the streaming service, Turner Classic Movie host Jacqueline Stewart will contextualize it.

“We can see with ‘Gone With the Wind’ how profoundly people’s understanding of American history has been shaped by these popular entertainments,” says Stewart. “It’s forcing us to confront the roots of racism in our country and to think about the role the media has played in shaping our understanding of race.”

“Mudbound” (Steve Dietl/Netflix via AP)

Recent films like Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” and Spike Lee’s just-released “Da 5 Bloods” have lent a corrective to history as seen in the movies. More are on the way. Since the protests began, several documentary projects have been announced on the Tulsa race massacre, including one produced by LeBron James.

Lee’s frequent co-writer Kevin Willmott recently completed a drama, “The 24th,” about the Houston Riots, in which some 150 black soldiers marched on Houston in 1917 after a police force evolved from plantation patrols and slave catchers brutalized them. Janet Pierson selected the film for SXSW before the festival was canceled, because, she said, it powerfully captured an important but little-known chapter in history. Willmott, who’s currently in talks with a pair of distributors, considers the Houston Riots a precursor to today’s unrest.

“One of my fears is that it’s a pretty strong film. In the climate we have now, I worry that it will scare some people,” says Willmott. “I hope that America has the courage to show this film because this is what America is dealing with right now. I know that dramatic movies about black resistance to injustice and oppression are hard sells in Hollywood.”

Kevin Willmott in 2018. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

It’s a good time to consider what films are getting greenlit, picking up distribution and getting hefty marketing support. When the director George Tillman (“Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”) first came to Hollywood, he found that the kinds of movies he wanted to make were set to modest budget parameters and marketed only to African American communities. Tillman remembers thinking: “You ain’t gonna put a billboard on Sunset or anything? It’s just going to be just on the South Side of Chicago? How am I ever going to expand?”

That’s evolved, Tillman says, citing changes brought by television and streaming services. But he still wishes his last film, the impassioned Angie Thomas adaptation “The Hate U Give,” had made a larger impact. As a story about a young woman led to the Black Lives Matter movement after tragedy, it’s a movie (currently free to stream) that speaks directly to the moment.

For Tillman, it’s the movie’s honesty that resonates now. It features a father instructing his children how to act in self-preservation if they’re ever pulled over by the police. The talk is one Tillman’s father gave him and one he’s given his 17-year-old son.

“To bare your truth is so important as a filmmaker,” says Tillman, who’s currently prepping a drama about the formation of the Black Panthers for Paramount Pictures. “Don’t let executives try to change your perspective as an African American man, as a filmmaker. What’s your belief? What’s your history? No one can tell your story better than you.

“Keep pushing the truth on screen.”

Laid-off job hunters are sending a deluge of applications to tech companies still hiring during the coronavirus crisis, and a recruiter says ‘We can be very picky’

picky recruiters

  • Many companies have frozen or slowed down hiring during the coronavirus pandemic, but for the companies that are still hiring, recruiters are busier than ever.
  • Recruiters say that they’re seeing more candidates apply than before, and they’re also sourcing from lists of people who have been laid off.
  • They also say the priorities of candidates have changed, as they’re more interested in a company’s stability and less interested in perks like free lunch and commuter benefits.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Asana has been onboarding 15 to 20 new hires every week since moving to remote work in mid-March.

Because there are now more people on the market, recruiting has become easier in some ways and more challenging in others, says Kayla Vatalaro, global head of talent at Asana. Vatalaro estimates that Asana is reviewing eight times more applications now than just a month ago.

Not all tech companies are still hiring like Asana. Since the outbreak began, many companies have taken a hit and have had to lay off staff. But for recruiters at companies that are still hiring, work has only gotten busier because of the massive influx of candidates.

Plus, recruiters now have to adapt the process to work virtually, while making sure they’re hiring a diverse team, conducting a fair process, and spending more time with candidates so that they feel more connected, Vatalaro says. And recruiters have noticed that the priorities of candidates have changed. Above all, they want to make sure they are joining a stable company.

“Humanizing our virtual process for us continues to be a top priority,” Vatalaro told Business Insider. “We’re making sure every touchpoint with our candidate feels personal. That extends all the way to our virtual onboarding experience.”

Likewise, the AI startup ArthurAI has been getting more inbound candidates than before, says Priscilla Alexander, co-founder and vice president of engineering at ArthurAI. Before, candidates often had multiple rounds of interviews with other companies and even multiple offers. But the market has completely flipped.

“Previously since the response rate has been low, you’ve had to reach out to a lot more candidates,” Alexander told Business Insider. “Filling the recruiting funnel and doing recruiting outreach was the biggest part of the work. Now sourcing is really easy. We’re looking at all the candidates out there and filtering the ones we want to talk to. We can be very picky.”

The pace of hiring has changed during the coronavirus pandemic

At the staffing services company Collabera, hiring has slowed down because many of its clients have taken a hit and had to lay off staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of widespread layoffs across the industry, there has been a larger flood of candidates onto the market, and the number of open positions isn’t catching up.

However, cloud, streaming, gaming, and remote work app companies have been more immune to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“It’s made an interesting pivot,” Sam Plasman, senior manager of recruiting at Collabera, told Business Insider. “There are certain companies that are business positive due to corona. It’s making us all pivot into markets that are flourishing due to the pandemic.”

For example, because of the demand for its cloud computing services during the pandemic, Amazon Web Services says it’s still hiring at a “rapid pace.”

“Our recruiters are also dealing with many of the same issues our candidates are, and we strive to be flexible with hours in order to accommodate the changes,” Jay Shankar, vice president of global talent acquisition at AWS, told Business Insider in a statement.

Other companies that are still hiring are focusing on certain roles. Vatalaro says Asana is “full speed ahead” in hiring, although it’s prioritizing roles that help fulfill its short-term objectives, such as in product development, product management, and customer success.

Similarly, while it’s still hiring engineers, the AI startup ArthurAI has slowed down to focus on more marketing roles because it has “become more critical to get exposure to the market,” Alexander says.

The interview process has gotten faster

In some ways, the recruiting and interview process has gotten more efficient without the need to fly in and lodge candidates. Scheduling virtual interviews has become more flexible, but recruiting teams now have to prepare candidates by giving them an overview of the technology they need to use for an interview.

While these processes have been streamlined, many recruiting firms have had to deal with hiring slowdowns.

As a manager, Plasman says much of his job now involves boosting employees’ morale because it’s not a “super happy-go-lucky bubbling time.” Some things he might do include starting a competition with incentives, encouraging team members to build each other up, and having more check-ins.

“Overall, most recruiting teams have seen a hit in terms of individual production and team production,” Plasman said. “That’s disappointing because a lot of what our compensation has been is personal production. All of a sudden you’re not producing at the same level, and it affects your morale too.”

Duolingo has not decreased or slowed down hiring, but the pressure is higher because so many companies are laying off staff, says Jocelyn Lai, director of talent acquisition at Duolingo. However, she says this helps her team feel that there’s more purpose in what they do.

“Whether it’s helping someone find a new opportunity or someone who got laid off, it’s an opportunity to help them find a job,” Lai said. “Morale actually goes up because our purpose is even bigger now.”

Recruiters will check lists of people who have gotten laid off

Companies will often put together lists and databases of people who have been laid off and circulate them to tech companies. During this time, recruiters frequently check these lists, and they will take them into consideration, knowing that these people are on the lookout for new opportunities.

Alexander estimates that before, mostly found candidates through LinkedIn searches and referrals, and now it’s 90% through layoff lists. And while Plasman will reach out to engineers who just got laid off, he will also reach out to employees remaining at the same company because they’re likely to be strong talent, and they may be worried about another layoff round.

Kristine Ona, a talent acquisition partner at the student loan platform Earnest, says she also frequently receives emails from VCs and other connections who know people who got laid off and are now job seeking.

“They made a point to connect people who they’ve laid off with other recruiters out there,” Ona told Business Insider. “It’s really interesting to see how companies are adapting to and dealing with the layoffs. It really comes down to how leaders approach this.”

Now, Ona says, there is plenty of good talent that is actively looking, and she will take time to connect with people on these lists. She says she has been doing triple the number of calls she normally does.

“Even though it’s busy, it feels really rewarding to connect with some of them,” Ona said.

Office perks are becoming less important

Recruiters say candidates are less interested in learning more about perks like free lunch and commuter benefits, or even what the office looks like. Duolingo created an office tour video for candidates, but Lai says these types of perks have become less important “considering there are bigger societal pieces going on.”

However, candidates may be interested in learning what companies do in lieu of those perks. For example, while office perks are less relevant at Asana, the company introduced benefits in mental wellness and virtual therapy.

“The question around the company has changed,” Lai said. “It used to be what cool things we do as a company and now the question is how authentic are you as a company and how well are you taking care of your current employees. These employees want to know what do you do to care for employees.”

The priorities of candidates have changed

Because of layoffs, Plasman says that many potential candidates are now more “risk-averse,” especially if they work at large companies like Facebook and Amazon. They also want to make sure that the job they’re interviewing for won’t be eliminated later.

“They’re second guessing if that’s the best move right now,” Plasman said. “During this specific time, they’re definitely evaluating the long-term potential or short-term potential of the product and company. Can it survive the pandemic, and can it survive another pandemic?”

Ona also noticed that more candidates are afraid to leave their jobs. Since Earnest has already been acquired, Ona says that one of its biggest selling features is that her company provides more stability.

“For me, I feel like I have this duty to connect with people to find their next fit and be really self-aware and open about it,” Ona said.

Typically, there are two types of candidates, Lai says. One is risk-averse and does not want to make a move from a large tech giant because of its stability. The other type cares about the mission of a company.

“We don’t force someone into a decision because it has to be the right fit, but we are honest about yeah, there are risks associated with leaving a big tech company,” Lai told Business Insider. “The trade off is there’s huge upside if you join us as the company grows…It’s definitely become more of a coaching process with candidates.”

Still, some candidates are willing to jump into a startup. Alexander, who works at an earlier stage startup, says the pandemic has allowed people to be more “experimental” with the next step in their careers. In general, will seek out candidates who are motivated to join a startup and motivated by its mission.

That being said, Alexander says she finds more candidates who are willing to have a conversation from companies like Lyft and Uber that have been struggling during the pandemic, while people in more stable tech companies are less likely to budge.

“A lot of companies, it’s hard to guarantee any stability, but I think folks who have a lot of stability in their current job, they’re just staying put,” Alexander said.

Tech giants praise Supreme Court ruling on protections for LGBTQ workers

apple lgbtq ceo

Apple, Google and Facebook CEOs share their support of the LGBTQ community following the ruling.

The chief executives of Apple, Google and Facebook on Monday praised a US Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ workers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his gratitude for the ruling on Twitter.

“Grateful for today’s decision by the Supreme Court,” said Cook in a tweet. “LGBTQ people deserve equal treatment in the workplace and throughout society, and today’s decision further underlines that federal law protects their right to fairness.”

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai also supported the Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s SCOTUS decision is another step forward in the fight for equality for all LGBTQ+ people,” said Pichai in a tweet on Monday. “We stand with our LGBTQ+ employees, including our trans community.”

Microsoft CEO pledges to fight racism through hiring, purchasing, donations

microsoft racism

Satya Nadella also says he’s looking closely at his own attitudes.

Microsoft will work to improve the lives of African Americans by pushing for a better justice system, focusing on its own hiring, donating funds to groups tackling racial inequality and buying from more-diverse suppliers, Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in an all-employee email the company published late Friday. And Nadella is looking more closely at his own attitudes and behavior, he said.

“I must continue my journey of understanding and empathy and examine actions I take, or don’t take, every day. Listening and learning from my Black and African American colleagues is helping me develop a better understanding of their experience. And I take accountability for my own continued learning on the realities of privilege, inequity and race and modeling the behavior I want to see in the world,” Nadella said in the email.

Several tech executives are trying to take a stand against racism after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black Minnesota man who died last month after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck. A bystander took video of Floyd’s final moments that sparked protests across the United States.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai also have made personal statements in the wake of Floyd’s death and amid the resulting protests and the often forceful police response to them. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also spoke out against racism, but some Facebook employees are protesting Facebook’s relatively gentle treatment of posts from President Donald Trump.

In his email, Nadella said Microsoft is:

“For us to have the permission to ask the world to change, we must change first,” Nadella said.

Nadella’s email follows earlier statements, including Nadella’s tweet against hate and racism and Microsoft spotlighting the voices of its own employees.

Ursula Burns is tired of corporate America making excuses for not hiring more black executives

ursula burns image

Retiring Veon chairman Ursula Burns, the last black woman to have served at the helm of a Fortune 500 company, is fed up with companies making excuses for failing to hire more black executives.

Burns herself has resisted calls for diversity quotas at major companies throughout her distinguished career, which includes serving as chief executive of Xerox from 2010 to 2016. But after seeing no black women CEOs follow in her footsteps and only four black male Fortune 500 CEOs in the four years since stepping down from Xerox, Burns has been reevaluating her viewpoint.

“How many more years do you say to the people who have been excluded: ‘Just hold on. Give them 10 more years. They’ll get there,'” she said. “Another generation kind of goes by the wayside of people who can be helpful, who can increase shareholder value, who can represent the stakeholders and create a just corporate America.”

Burns said her phone has been ringing off the hook since the murder of George Floyd three weeks ago, as white executives at major companies reach out to her for advice on how to address issues of racism and diversity within their organizations.

“It’s almost like [they’re] speaking to the slaves who were slaves back then and [asking], ‘Can you tell me how to undo slavery?'” Burns said. “You are the architects and beneficiaries of a system today that you can undo. You can undo it 10, 50 times more than we can. But you have to be a part of the conversation and lead the conversation.”
Burns said the George Floyd tragedy hit a nerve for her personally as a black woman from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, who grew up fearing police and today still fears for the safety of her two adult children.
Like many black Americans, Burns said she raised her son and daughter to be wary of police, especially her son, Malcolm Bean, who graduated from Stanford and MIT.
“He knows very clearly that when he leaves the house, he has to be very careful if a police person approaches him,” Burns said. “[My children] were raised that way, to be paranoid because basically we’re seeing what some of the worst case actions [by] wayward police are towards black people.”
Burns said she hopes the collective moment the nation is having right now leads to substantive change for black people in Corporate America, not just policing.
“I don’t know if it’s worth waiting another 10 or 15 years,” she said.

The tech industry has a terrible track record on diversity. Here’s how 17 companies that spoke out against racism this week say they plan to improve.

tech industry racism

  • Many technology companies have shared statements of support as protesters across the country advocate for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
  • But many of these same companies struggle to hire and retain people of color and women from all backgrounds.
  • Business Insider tracked what enterprise tech companies have said publicly about the ongoing protests, along with their diversity statistics for leadership and their overall workforce, and asked how they plan to promote more diverse and equitable workplaces.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Across the US, people are marching to protest the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people who have been killed by police.

In response, tech companies have jumped on board, crafting blog posts and tweets to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But while their messages say they stand against racism, employees within those companies have often told a different story.

Silicon Valley has long been a mostly-white boys club: Underrepresented minorities like Black and Latinx people still only make up single-digit percentages of the workforce at many major tech companies. When you look at the leadership statistics, the numbers are even bleaker.

Making a corporate statement opposing racism should just be an initial step, says Aparna Rae, the cofounder of Moving Beyond, which helps companies make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of their business operations.

Companies should immediately “acknowledge the pain, suffering, and secondary trauma experienced by people of color employees, especially Black employees,” she said, while equipping managers to offer time off, mental health resources, and no-meeting days. They can also support Black employees by providing white employees with resources to become better-informed allies, she said.

Beyond the systemic racism they may deal with in their everyday lives, underrepresented minorities face barriers to breaking into tech that their white counterparts are less likely to face.

Word choice in job postings can deter underrepresented minorities and women from applying in the first place, and if they do apply, tech interviewers may have unconscious biases that lead them to gravitate towards candidates like themselves (which can mean white males only hiring white males).

Once women and people of color are hired, they may face pay gaps and harassment. According to a Glassdoor survey, 43% of US employees have seen or experienced racism at work. While it’s become common for major tech companies to hire diversity and inclusion executives, many startups don’t make it a top priority early on, which can affect the way the company grows.

And when the culture of a company is unwelcoming to underrepresented minorities, it affects their retention rate. In the past year, the tech industry has seen memos circulate from employees at Google and Facebook describing the racism and discrimination they have faced at work. In one memo, a former Black Google employee wrote that they “never stopped feeling the burden of being black at Google,” and current Black engineering director Leslie Miley also shared shared how he was accosted at least once a week while wearing his badge because he doesn’t look like the employee his coworkers expect.

Women and people of color have also been disproportionately impacted by layoffs during the coronavirus, says Evelyn Carter, director of Paradigm, which works with companies to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts. She says it’s partly because layoff decisions are often based on tenure, and, for the aforementioned reasons, women and people of color are more likely to be in junior positions instead of leadership.

“That influx of diversity is going away if folks aren’t intentional about all their decisions in the employee life-cycle,” Carter told Business Insider.

In recent years, companies have published their diversity statistics and pledged to increase hiring of people of color and women. In many cases, progress for these companies has been slow.

Moving Beyond’s Rae also said that companies should be publicly and explicitly detailing their plans to diversify company leadership and boards of directors, and focus on approaches grounded in data.

“We are reading, ‘We support Black Lives Matter,” and, ‘We don’t condone racism,’ but ultimately, when this dies down, is it going to be business as usual?” Rae said.

The value of making plans public is that it invites feedback and suggestions, and helps employees and outsiders hold the company accountable.

In that spirit, Business Insider put together a list detailing what 17 enterprise tech companies have said publicly about the ongoing protests, along with the diversity statistics at each one. We included statistics both for the company overall and in leadership. In addition, we asked each company what it plans to do in order to improve diversity and inclusion within the company:


Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai 
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images


“The events of the past few weeks reflect deep structural challenges. We’ll work closely with our Black community to develop initiatives and product ideas that support long-term solutions—and we’ll keep you updated. As part of this effort, we welcome your ideas on how to use our products and technology to improve access and opportunity.”

You can read the full statement from Google CEO Sundar Pichai here.

Diversity statistics:

White: 51.7%

Asian: 41.9%

Black: 3.7%

Latinx: 5.9%

Native American: 0.8%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 65.9%

Asian: 29.6%

Black: 2.6%

Latinx: 3.7%

Native American: 0.5%

Men: 73.3%

Women: 26.7%

You can read the full diversity report here.

Statement on how it plans to improve: “We’re committed to building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a workplace that creates a sense of belonging for everyone. As you’ll see in our recent diversity report, we’ve taken concrete actions to steadily grow a more representative workforce, launching programs that support our communities globally, and building products that better serve all of our users.”

Google released its most recent report in early May.



Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. 
Chesnot/Getty Images


“Our identity, our very existence is rooted in empowering everyone on the planet. So, therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to use our platforms, our resources, to drive that systemic change, right? That’s the real challenge here. It’s not just any one incident, but it’s all the things that have led to the incident that absolutely need to change.

We can’t do it alone. I’m grounded in that, I realize that, but together I think we can, and we will drive change.

We need to recognize that we are better, smarter and stronger when we consider the voices, the actions of all communities, and you have my assurance that Microsoft will continue to advocate to have all those voices heard and respected.”

Read the full statement here.

Overall workforce diversity statistics:

White: 53.2%

Asian: 33.1%

African American/Black: 4.5%

Hispanic/Latinx: 6.3%

American Indian/Alaskan Native: .5%

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: .2%

Multiracial: 2.1%

(As of 2019. Includes Microsoft’s retail operations and does not include Microsoft’s portfolio companies, like LinkedIn)

Leadership diversity statistics (executives):

White: 67.3%

Asian: 23.9%

African American/Black: 2.7%

Hispanic/Latinx: 4.4%

American Indian/Alaskan Native: .4%

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: .1%

Multiracial: .9%

Men: 80.7%

Women: 19.3%

How it plans to improve: Microsoft referred Business Insider to its Diversity and Inclusion report, released in November 2019. When asked whether Microsoft plans to take any new steps, Microsoft said it had “nothing to share.”


FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 file photo, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks off stage after holding a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington to announce the Climate Pledge, setting a goal to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early. On Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, Bezos said that he plans to spend $10 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos 
Associated Press


“The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop. Together we stand in solidarity with the Black community — our employees, customers, and partners — in the fight against systematic racism and injustice.” Read more about the response to Amazon’s statement, including from some employees, here.

Overall workforce diversity statistics:

White: 34.7%

Asian: 15.4%

Black/African American: 26.5%

Hispanic/Latinx: 18.5%

Native American: 1.3%

Two or more races: 3.6%

Leadership diversity statistics (manager-level):

White: 59.3%

Asian: 20.8%

Black/African American: 8.3%

Hispanic/Latinx: 8.1%

Native American: .6%

Two or more races: 3%

Men: 72.5%

Women: 27.5%

(Includes both corporate and warehouse operations)

How it plans to improve: Amazon and Amazon Web Services did not respond to Business Insider’s requests about whether the company plans to take any steps to create a more diverse workforce and equitable workplace.


Twilio co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson
Twilio co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson 


“Twilio cares for and stands with the Black Community. It is our responsibility and honor to speak out against hate and violence. Silence is a message in itself. We choose to speak up.”

Message here.

Diversity statistics: 

White: 40%

Asian: 21%

Black: 3%

Latinx: 3%

Pacific Islander, Native, Other: 1%

Two or more races: 2%

Leadership diversity statistics: 

White: 59%

Asian: 15%

Black: 1%

Latinx: 3%

Pacific Islander, Native, Other: 2%

Two or more races: 1%

Men: 67%

Women: 33%

You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve: 

Twilio is working on a blog post on these issues to be released later with more details. Business Insider will update when it’s published.


atlassian mike cannon-brookes scott farquhar
Atlassian co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brookes (left) and Scott Farquhar (right) 


“What has happened to many other Black lives, all over the world, is not acceptable. I have a responsibility to say Black Lives Matter. I believe we all do. Like many of you, Scott and I are angry and sad. We believe, above all else, in respecting human rights. Equality is not a privilege, reserved for some and not others. Now, more than ever, we must come together and support one another. We must listen, and learn. And we must speak up and fight for equality and justice. We should continue to expect unrest until governments and companies (including ours) are held accountable in upholding equality and justice. And as this unrest grows more loud, more violent, and more painful, we need to do own our part in creating a more just and equitable world. Anything less would be complicit and complacent.”

You can read the full statement from Mike Cannon-Brookes here.

Diversity statistics:

White: 59.3%

Asian: 27%

Black: 2.6%

Latinx: 5.5%

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander: 0.2%

Two or more races: 3.4%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 64.7%

Asian: 31%

Black: 0%

Latinx: 1.7%

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander: 0.9%

Two or more races: 0.9%

Men: About 70%

Women: 29.8%

You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve: Declined to disclose.


GitHub CEO Nat Friedman
GitHub CEO Nat Friedman 


“This week has been a horrifying, sad reminder of the centuries-long pattern of systemic racism in the US. And that our criminal justice system is in dire need of reform. GitHub stands with the Black community and will not be silent on violence and injustice,” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman on Twitter. 

Diversity statistics:

White: 69.2%

Asian: 13.7%

Black: 5.5%

Latinx: 7.5%

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.4%

Multiracial: 3.7%

Management diversity statistics:

White: 71%

Asian: 16%

Black: 4.5%

Latinx: 4.5%

Multiracial: 4%

Men: 66.8%

Women: 33.2%

You can read the full diversity report here.

Statement on how it plans to improve: “To build the best platform for our community, we need to build a company that reflects the world we live in today. At GitHub, diversity, inclusion, and belonging is an ongoing commitment—something we’re accountable for and that we all create together. Our focus on both hiring and retaining employees from underrepresented backgrounds is essential to the success of our company and community. We know we have a lot more to do.”


Pat Gelsinger
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger 
Business Insider


“There is no place in our world for racial injustice. I am thinking of our employees, customers, partners and communities who are hurting and angry. My prayers go out to you. We must be better and make the world a better place for everyone in it,” VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said on Twitter.

Overall diversity statistics:

White: 57.6%

Asian: 31.1%

Black: 3.2%

Latinx: 5.8%

Multiracial: 1.8%

Other: 0.5%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 67.1%

Asian: 26.2%

Black: 1.5%

Latinx: 3.8%

Multiracial: 1.1%

Other: 0.3%

Men: 75.6%

Women: 24.4%

You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve:

VMware says its vice presidents and above are assigned a D&I goal to: improve the representation of women and underrepresented minorities, ensure that at least one woman or underrepresented candidate is interviewed for all open positions, and improve the company’s culture through their leadership actions.

It has also piloted several new programs to identify and hire underrepresented talent. Recently, VMware rolled out a training session called the Inclusive Leadership Initiative. It also started a Getting Real Campaign to tackle topics like race and privilege. You can read more about these initiatives here.


peter leav low (1)
McAfee CEO Peter Leav 


“At McAfee, inclusion and equality are part of our DNA. These principles guide the way we treat one another, the way we do business, and how we operate. We vehemently believe there is no place for racism, discrimination, or Injustice in our society, and we cannot stay silent when we see such unfathomable acts or behavior.”

See the full social media post here.

2019 diversity statistics:

White: 57%

Asian: 22.5%

Black: 5.9%

Latinx: 7.9%

Native American: .3%

Pacific Islander: .4%

McAfee did not share leadership diversity stats.

You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve: McAfee team members are encouraged to share their reflections, observations, and words of support during this time. Partnering with the McAfee African Heritage Community, the company has also published an internal guide for allies.

McAfee leaders will be participating in open forums and town hall meetings. In addition to unconscious bias training, McAfee will hold sensitivity training with a focus on racial equality for all McAfee team members.


Okta Todd McKinnon
Okta CEO Todd McKinnon 
Okta. Used by permission.

Statement: “We are listening. We are learning. We stand in solidarity with our Black and African American communities. We will work to achieve viable solutions to resolve racial inequality and are committed to financially supporting nonprofit organizations working toward improving racial equality through Okta for Good.” See the social media post here.

Statement by CEO Todd McKinnon: “Racism of every kind is unconscionable. The images and news stories we are seeing about the treatment of black people in America today are incredibly tragic. I stand with my black colleagues at Okta and the entire community as we work together for a more just and kind society.” See his social media post here.

Diversity statistics: Not publicly released. The company says it will be releasing this summer.

You can read the full diversity web page here.

How it plans to improve: CEO Todd McKinnon has “committed to listening and learning from our black team members,” the company says. Okta has also offered a number of “safe space” sessions for members of its black community, led by a clinical psychologist. And Okta is hosting allyship sessions and internally sharing resources (books, articles, podcasts, etc.) on how to better support team members, peers and communities.


Chuck Robbins
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins 
Business Insider


Via CEO Chuck Robbins in an email to employees:

“People across the globe, who are already facing the worst health crisis of a lifetime, are now painfully reminded about the racial divide, xenophobia and inequality that remains all too prevalent today. Sadly, these issues are not new, nor are they specific to one part of the world.

For many of us, they are rooted deep in our history as we have seen this hate for centuries and I am frustrated by the lack of action and change.  … I have spoken with many of you these past few days and I see your pain and your rage. As a team, we have never shied away from the tough conversations or tackling challenges, however insurmountable they may seem. This situation is no different. We must lean in to our conscious culture and support each other now more than ever.”

Here’s Robbins’ Twitter statement. 

Overall diversity statistics (2019):

White: 52%

Asian: 37%

Black: 3.8%

Hispanic/Latinx: 5.6%

American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.2%

Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%

Two or More Races: 1.3%

Executive Team diversity statistics:

White: 62%

Asian: 23%

African American/Black: 0%

Hispanic/Latinx: 15%

American Indian/Alaska Native: 0%

Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 0%

Two or More Races: 0%

Men: 54%

Women: 46%

Statement on how it plans to improve:

“Diversity, inclusion, collaboration, and technology are fundamental to who we are, how we create the best teams, and how we will succeed in this age of digital transformation. Our work is focused on achieving four key business outcomes: Diverse leadership and workforce, inclusive and collaborative culture, community engagement and impact, and inclusion and collaboration industry leadership.

We view inclusion and collaboration as the bridge to connect diverse perspectives, spark new ideas, and imagine new possibilities. We challenge the status quo and inspire innovation, unleashing the full power and potential of our people. This is the heart of our approach to creating a Conscious Culture where everyone takes responsibility for fostering an inclusive, collaborative, and respectful environment.”


bob swan intel 2x1
Intel CEO Bob Swan 
Intel; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider


“Black lives matter. Period. While racism can look very different around the world, one thing that does not look different is that racism of any kind will not be tolerated here at Intel or in our communities.

To our black employees and communities inside and outside Intel, I hear you and see you. You are hurting deeply. You are angry. You are tired.”

Read the full memo to employees from Intel CEO Bob Swan here. 

Overall diversity statistics:

White: 45.8%

Asian: 38.2%

Hispanic: 10%

African American: 4.9%

Native American: 0.8%

Multiracial: 0.3%

Multiracial: 0.1%

Executive diversity statistics:

White: 61.85%

Asian: 29.4%

Hispanic: 5.7%

African American: 2.3%

Native American: 0.9%

Multiracial: 0.0%

Men 79.7%

Women 20.3%

Statement on how it plans to improve:

“We believe a diverse and inclusive workforce is key to driving our growth. … It is clear that we must keep focusing on the progression and retention of key talent and build a deeper culture of inclusion.” – Barbara Whye, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer


Aaron Levie

Mike Windle/Getty


We stand in solidarity with the Black community against racism, hate, and injustice. Silence and complacency have no place in our world. Our values and our humanity call us to action. Through, we are committed to financially supporting non-profit organizations working towards improving racial equality. Get vocal. Stand up. Join us.”

Message here. 

Diversity statistics:

Black: 3.1%

Latinx: 8%

Box did not disclose its percentage of white, Asian, or otherwise identifying employees.

Leadership diversity statistics:

Box did not disclose. 

How it plans to improve: 

Tiffany Stevenson, Box’s chief talent and inclusion officer, said Box thinks about inclusion using three pillars: hiring, thriving, and belonging.

For hiring, Box has increased its timeline for searching for qualified candidates for open roles, so it gets a wider pool of applicants, while proactively thinking about how to hire underrepresented people.

For “thriving,” Box focuses on learning and development, like manager trainings around hiring and performance reviews, so they’re thinking about their biases, Stevenson said.

“Belonging” is really about making sure people feel comfortable to be themselves at work, she said. That means acknowledging that people have different proximities to racial injustice and incidents of police brutality. Some may just see it on the news, but for others it could be something they or someone they know has experienced.

That means making sure managers don’t pretend its “business as usual” right now. Box has been holding allyship meetings this week for employees to talk about what it means to be an ally and what they want to see Box do to address inequity.


Stewart Butterfield



We are horrified and sickened not only by George Floyd’s murder and the larger context of police brutality against Black people, but also by the pattern of violent response to largely peaceful protests. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and community.”

See the full statement here as well as what CEO Stewart Butterfield posted internally here. 

Diversity statistics:

White: 52.2%

Asian: 28.3%

Black or African American: 4.4%

Latinx /Hispanic: 7.9%

Middle Eastern: 1.1%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.4%

American Indian, Indigenous, or Alaska Native: 0.1%

Two or more races: 4.2%

Not listed: 1.3%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 69.1%

Asian: 15.8%

Black or African American: 5.3%

Latinx / Hispanic: 2.6%

Middle Eastern: 1.3%

Two or more races: 3.3%

Not listed: 2.6%

Slack says it has no Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Indigenous, or Alaska Native people in U.S. leadership roles.

Men: 70.1%

Women: 29.9%

You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve: 

“As we outlined in our statement, our teams are working hard to determine how we can best partner with the broader community and support meaningful, structural change.

In addition to our existing Diversity Office Hours and channels for employee feedback, we’ve implemented a number of immediate measures in the past week including:

  • Listening sessions with our Black Employee Resource Group, Mahogany
  • Offering guidelines for Slack managers on how they can support Black employees
  • Sharing a resource list for managers to better educate themselves on White supremacy and oppression of the Black community.

These measures are only a first, basic step and we look forward to sharing more on the actions we’ll be taking in the coming weeks,” a Slack spokesperson said.

It also currently has programs to recruit and hire underrepresented interns, support higher performers who have “historically lacked access to this type of support,” and train and hire formerly incarcerated people.


marc benioff

Kimberley White/Getty Images


“We stand with the Black community against racism, violence, and hate. Now more than ever we must support one another as allies and speak up for justice and equality.”

Message here.

Diversity statistics:

White: 61.6%

Asian / Indian: 25.6%

Black / African American: 2.9%

Latinx / Hispanic: 4.3%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.3%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.2%

Multiracial: 2.8%

Not listed: 2.2%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 73.7%

Asian / Indian: 17.2%

Black / African American: 1.5%

Latinx / Hispanic: 3.3%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.1%

Multiracial: 2.8%

Not listed: 1.4%

Men: 76.1%

Women: 23.7%

Salesforce also reports diversity statistics for tech roles, and non-tech roles. You can read the full diversity report here.

How it plans to improve: 

“Our primary focus is standing with and supporting our Black employees in this time of incredible grieving, pain and loss,” a Salesforce spokesperson said. “BOLDforce, our Black employee resource group, hosted an Equality Circle for the Black community and allies to share their stories, experiences and support for each other.”

Salesforce hosted a virtual event on Tuesday featuring prominent Black business leaders and celebrities, to talk about race and injustice. The event was moderated by chief philanthropy officer Ebony Beckwith and CEO Marc Benioff.

The spokesperson also pointed out other ongoing initiatives:

  • An Equality Mentorship program and a partnership with the Executive Leadership Council on an in-house program focused on underrepresented minorities (Black, Latinx, and Indigenous)
  • Fair, equitable, and inclusive business processes, including a working towards equal pay for women and minorities, and trainings on inclusive business practices.


eric yuan zoom

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan


“COVID has brought pain, loss, ambiguity, and despair for many, in particular, vulnerable communities. The Black Community in the United States has been severly impacted and coupled with the pandemic has also experienced shocking and senseless killings that have occured or been brought to light over the past couple of weeks involving Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

To be clear, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations and the individual and institutionalized racism and violence that the Black Community continues to endure is not new. However, as I watch the news, listen, and read, I know I am on my own journey of learning. While I don’t pretend to be even close to truly understanding the multi-faceted experiences within the Black community, I am now, more than ever, open to listening, learning, understanding, and leading our voice — as a company that connects the world — to take action for social and racial equity.”

Read the full letter from CEO Eric Yuan here.

Diversity statistics:

Zoom doesn’t currently release diversity statistics but it recently hired a chief diversity officer, who started June 1, who will be in charge of that going forward, a Zoom spokesperson said.

How it plans to improve: 

Zoom declined to comment, beyond saying that its new chief diversity officer, Damien Hooper-Campbell, will be leading these initiatives.

Hooper-Campbell’s role will be to “lead the design and implementation of Zoom’s global diversity and inclusion strategy with a focus on its current and future employees and its products. He will also be responsible for establishing Zoom’s university recruiting program and initiatives.”


michael dell
Dell CEO Michael Dell 
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton


“The murder of George Floyd is an atrocity,” CEO Michael Dell told employees in a letter. “We all stand in horror, grieving as a nation alongside his family and his community. To see a man killed, a life ended cruelly and senselessly is something that will haunt me forever. But for people of color in communities all over this country and around the world – that footage is not a surprise, it is all too familiar. The fault lines of our society are laid bare. From the devastating and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 to the devastating impacts of police brutality, the long-standing racial injustice in America that began 400 years ago is impossible to ignore. And the people who have been ignored are now demanding to be heard. We are listening.”

Diversity statistics (US only in 2019):

White: 69.9%

Asian: 14.2%

Black / African American: 4.9%

Hispanic / Latinx: 7.7%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.5%

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.2%

Two or More Races: 1.7%

Not Specified: 0.9%

Leadership diversity statistics:

White: 77.4%

Asian: 11.4%

Black / African American: 2.9%

Hispanic / Latinx: 6.2%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.3%

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%

Two or More Races: 1.0%

Not Specified: 0.6%

Men: 76.6%

Women: 23.4%

Statement on how it plans to improve:

“Meaningful change requires intentional listening and action. It requires space for the uncomfortable conversations and standing up and standing together for change. We at Dell Technologies – like all companies – have a role to play in addressing the racial injustice being witnessed right now. We must learn from others’ experiences and hold ourselves accountable for doing things differently. There is hard work to be done, but we are committed to doing the work and leading by example.”


ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott
ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott 


We embrace diversity, inclusion, and belonging as one of our top talent and business priorities. We are building a more diverse, inclusive global workforce and a culture in which everyone can be who they are and thrive. Belonging is the breakthrough. It allows employees to feel safe, valued, and seen. …

I believe every employee deserves to be treated beautifully and fairly. It’s about leading with compassion and empathy. For example, this means we are creating an open environment for our LGBTQ+ employees, we are diversifying our recruiting practices, and we are training our employees about the effects of unconscious bias.

– Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer

Diversity statistics (US only in 2019):

White: 57.4%

Asian: 31.4%

Black / African American: 2.1%

Hispanic / Latinx: 6.2%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.3%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.3%

Two or more races: 2.3%

Leadership diversity (US only in 2019):

White: 70.0%

Asian: 22.9%

Black / African American: 1.3%

Hispanic / Latinx: 3.5%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.1%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.0%

Two or more races: 1.3%

Women: 28.2%

Men: 71.8%

Statement on how it plans to improve:

“We are encouraging and embracing open, honest, vulnerable dialogue within our company, especially with our Black employees,” said Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors. “Their voices and needs will help shape our response.”


Jack Dorsey
Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey 


“There is much to do to right society’s long history of wrongs against Black communities. We can put out statements all day, but we know that words alone can feel quaint. Real, meaningful work is necessary to create change. Together with the BSA, we will continue to do that work. We stand with our Black employees, our customers, and the Black community in demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality.”

Message here.

Diversity statistics:

White: 57.3%

Asian: 25.1%

Black or African American: 6.4%

Hispanic or Latinx: 5.8%

Two or more races: 5%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.2%

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0.2%


White: 70.9%

Asian: 22.1%

Black or African American: 2%

Hispanic or Latinx: 2%

Two or more races: 3%

American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0%

Men: 74.8%

Women: 25.2%

Statement on how it plans to improve (via spokesperson):

“To broaden the diversity of entry-level talent we were connecting with, we shifted our strategy from focusing on campus activity to also include the growing number of conferences and organizations created for underrepresented groups. Accordingly, we increased our presence and interviewing capacity at conferences such as Tapia, the Grace Hopper Celebration, the annual conventions for National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. We also expanded our relationships with organizations including Tech Ladies and Rewriting the Code, and improved our focus on hiring talent from our Code Camps and other bootcamps.”

“We encourage managers to consider promotion readiness for everyone on their team, HR facilitates fair and unbiased promotion calibration sessions, and analysts check for statistical evidence of bias before compensation decisions are final.”

Oscars: Future Films Must Meet Diversity And Inclusion Rules

oscar diversity rules

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday announced a new initiative to expand diversity and inclusion within the filmmaking industry, as it faces renewed criticism over a lack of diverse representation on screen and behind the scenes.

The latest effort to de-white-ify the film community, called “Academy Aperture 2025,” includes a plan to require Oscar nominees to meet certain diversity and inclusion standards.

“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement Friday. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”

Although it was light on details, the Academy said it is creating a task force of film industry leaders “to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31.”

The new rules are expected to “encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off screen,” according to the statement.

Additionally, the pool of Best Picture nominees will be permanently set at 10 beginning with the 94th Oscars in 2022. In recent years the number of films in the category has fluctuated between five and 10.

The new measures come on the heels of a sweep of protests against institutional racism that were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer on Memorial Day.

But the changes also follow years of conflict between filmmakers of color and the Academy, which they accuse of decades of exclusion of non-white directors, writers and actors in the competition for film’s most prestigious prizes. In 2014, a complete shut-out of any non-white Academy Award nominees in the more prominent categories prompted the Oscars So White hashtag.

As a result, the following year the Academy tried to broaden its voting membership, inviting over 300 new members. It also launched A2020, a plan designed to promote inclusion within the organization.

As Yahoo reported:

“In the more than 90 years of the Oscars, no Black director has ever won the Best Director award, no Black women have been nominated in that category, and only two films by Black directors have been awarded Best Picture: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.”

Earlier this week, a record number of women and people of color were elected to the board of governors, including Whoopi Goldberg and Ava DuVernay.

Moving forward, all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and Academy staff will be required to attend unconscious bias training.

“To truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” said Academy President David Rubin.

Six years into reporting diversity, Big Tech has made little progress in hiring minorities

big tech diversity

Prominent tech companies have made little progress in their stated goal of hiring more minorities.

Six years after their first diversity reports, AlphabetAppleFacebookMicrosoft and Twitter have seen low single-digit increases in their percentage of Black employees, according to a CNBC analysis of the annual disclosures. Amazon shows a higher increase, but those numbers include warehouse and delivery workers.

“Every year they put out the same diversity report, check the box, then send out the same report the next year,” said Freada Kapor Klein, founding partner at Kapor Capital. “We’re at a crucial crossroads — I don’t think what tech companies have done to date is anywhere near enough.”

In 2014, tech companies acknowledged the gap and made it a public goal to increase diversity in their workforces. In recent weeks, major tech CEOs renewed vows to tackle inequality after public outrage over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Protests have erupted in cities across the U.S. in the weeks since.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post that the company “needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms,” pledging to donate $10 million. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey pledged $3 million to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, and Amazon promised $10 million to support social justice and Black communities. Google pledged $12 million to civil rights groups, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised the company would make donations to several groups such as the Equal Justice Initiative and match employee donations, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella pledged $1.5 million to several social justice organizations, adding the company will be using its platform to “amplify” the voices of its Black workers.

Kapor Klein, also a founding team member at Project Include, pointed to prior levels of spending at tech companies for diversity and inclusion, and statements by executives. Those “ring hollow,” she said, until bigger changes show up in the diversity data.

‘Metrics, but no consequences’

In the past six years, these companies have made improvements but are nowhere near parity.

Women have moved up as a higher fraction of the workforce. Facebook’s technical workforce, for example, jumped from 15% female when the report began in 2014 to 23% at the beginning of 2019. Google has made similar progress.

But for Black employees, Facebook showed the smallest increase — going from 3% to 3.8% of workers in the past five years. Twitter moved from roughly 2% Black employees in its workforce in 2014to 6% as of the start of 2019. Amazon reported an 11 percentage point jump, with a workforce that was 26.5% Black as of the start of 2019. However, the majority of its employees work in Amazon distribution centers, making it difficult to compare with its tech peers.

Bari Williams, head of legal at start-up Human Interest and former lead senior counsel at Facebook, said the annual reports are a key step in transparency. But tech giants’ data-centric approach and competitiveness haven’t been effective when it comes to diversity.

“These companies are data-driven, but if people are not hitting their diversity metrics, where’s the downside?” Williams said. “You have metrics, but no consequences.”

Among leadership and technical roles like coders and engineers, the diversity numbers are even lower. Apple’s workforce is 9% Black — but that drops to 3% when looking at leadership roles. Its share of Black technical workers remained flat at 6% from the end of 2013 through the end of 2017, the last year Apple published diversity data.

“One flaw is not thinking about it from the outset of the company formation, that’s having ripple effects that are now being seen several years later,” said Richard Kerby, general partner at Equal Ventures. “You’re not seeing movement because it’s not being tracked or monitored — there’s no incentive alignment for someone to improve on the numbers.”

Employee retention

While hiring remains an area of focus for inclusion, Margaret Neale, Stanford University professor emerita in organizational behavior, said it’s just as often an issue of retention. Finding a mentor or a sponsor within a company can be difficult. Without one, it can be nearly impossible to ascend to a leadership role.

“We see the same kind of diversity reports from a variety of different tech companies, what you see very clearly is that there’s very little change,” she said. “There continues to be hiring, but there’s not stickiness to those hires. There’s a substantial shedding of folks of color at much higher proportions given the total numbers that exist.”

In response to CNBC’s requests for comment, the tech companies pointed to incremental progress. Last year, Google showed its largest increase recorded in hiring Black tech employees in the U.S. At Apple, 53% of new hires in the U.S. are from historically underrepresented groups in tech.

Despite the single-digit improvements, critics still applaud effort to publish these reports out, pointing to industries like Wall Street that don’t publish diversity data on an annual basis.

Kapor Klein said it continues to be an uphill battle to “retrofit diversity into a big company.” Thanks to their growth in the past two decades, tech giants now have what she called a “denominator problem” of changing a 118,000 person workforce in the case of Alphabet.

“Moving the needle by 10% is a lot, that means a lot of employees have to be hired or a lot have to leave, and it still doesn’t change the culture,” she said. “Companies have a much harder task and it requires an absolute fundamental commitment to change.”

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