- A former Facebook employee has accused the company of failing to deal with racism and failing to build an inclusive workplace.
- In a goodbye note to colleagues he subsequently shared publicly, Mark S. Luckie wrote: “Facebook has a black people problem.”
- The former Twitter and Reddit employee said that “racial discrimination is real” and that black employees are marginalized.
Luckie, the company’s strategic partner manager for influencers before quitting in November, sent a 2,500-word memo to his colleagues earlier in the month before posting it publicly on Facebook on Tuesday. It details his experiences of racism at the company, and what he says are the company’s failures to build a more inclusive workplace that is supportive of people of colour.
“Facebook’s disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees,” he wrote. “Too many black employees can recount stories of being aggressively accosted by campus security beyond what was necessary.
“On a personal note, at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass… To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the colour of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic.”
Luckie, who has also worked at The Washington Post, Twitter, and Reddit, said that teams needed to hire more diverse workers, and that “uunderrepresented groups are being systematically excluded from communication.”
Black employees can be treated unfairly – including being considered “hostile” for acting in a similar manner to white colleagues – and have concerns that they can’t speak out without risking “jeopardizing our professional relationships and our career advancements,” he added.
Luckie’s criticisms open up a crisis on a new front for Facebook, which is already reeling from multiple scandals around its business – from Cambridge Analytica to its role spreading hate speech amid genocide in Myanmar, and the company’s attempts to smear its critics with a line of attack that has been called anti-Semitic.
Black employees currently make up 4% of Facebook’s workforce, according to its 2018 diversity report, and make up 1% of the total number of employees in technical roles. Just 2% of the company’s senior leadership is black employees.
In an emailed statement, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison wrote: “Over the last few years, we’ve been working diligently to increase the range of perspectives among those who build our products and serve the people who use them throughout the world. The growth in representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed.
“We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviours that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company.”
Luckie added: “In some buildings, there are more ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters than there are actual black people. Facebook can’t claim that it is connecting communities if those communities aren’t represented proportionately in its staffing.”
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