Snap CEO says in internal meeting he won’t release diversity numbers because it would reinforce the perception that Silicon Valley isn’t diverse

  • 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.
  • 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, implying that the report would make the company look bad at a time of increased focus on representation, the sources said.

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.

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, Google reported women made up only 32% of its employees and that only 9.6% were Black or Latinx. The situation is similar at Facebook, where only 9% of its workforce is Black or Latinx. Twitter’s Latinx and Black employees make up about 11% of Twitter’s workforce, while Apple is one of the most diverse tech companies, with more than 22% of workers identifying as Black or Latinx.

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 colour 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 behaviour 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 criticised 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 colour, 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 behaviour from leadership that was overwhelmingly white and put their jobs at risk to push for diversity in editorial content.

Snapchat did not immediately provide a statement to Business Insider. Thursday was Snap’s Partner Summit, which is taking place virtually.