Leaked Wayfair documents reveal massive racial disparity in company leadership as it grapples with employee-led crisis over furnishing border camps

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesA meeting takes place on Wayfair furniture at the Boston headquarters of Wayfair in 2018.
  • Leaked internal data shows that Wayfair’s leadership is 79% white, according to a survey released in March.
  • Just 3% identified as Hispanic or Latino, 1% identified as black or African American, and 15% identified as Asian, according to data shared with Business Insider.
  • Wayfair is facing boycott threats as workers prepare for a walkout in response to the company selling furniture to a contractor managing camps along the US southern border.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As Wayfair faces backlash for selling furniture to furnish migrant detention facilities, internal data shows that the response is being led by an overwhelmingly white leadership team.

According to internal data shared with Wayfair employees in March, Wayfair’s leadership team is 79% white. Just 3% of the team identified as Hispanic or Latino.

One per cent identified as black or African American, 2% identified as two or more races, and 15% identified as Asian.

The survey covered all US employees and classified leadership as employees with the rank of associate director or higher. Some 8% of leadership did not provide racial information.

A Wayfair employee who was granted anonymity because they were not authorised to share the data said they did so because they believed it revealed larger issues related to race and “bigotry” at the company.

Wayfair did not respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.

Here is the breakdown of race at Wayfair:

Race and ethnicity at WayfairYutong Yuan/Business InsiderA breakdown of Wayfair’s work culture by race.

In tech, only 3% or fewer employees identified as black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, or two or more races. (Tech encompassed workers in the engineering, product, and operations product-innovation team.)

Overall, 63% of Wayfair employees identify as white. About 10% identify as Asian, 12% as black or African American, and 10% as Hispanic or Latino.

The company gathered the data from US employees’ voluntary disclosures. Roughly 7 to 13% of employees in each category did not disclose their race or ethnicity.

“Gathering and analysing our data is just one step on our continued collective DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] journey to increase diverse representation at all levels and to continue developing programs that create a space that is inclusive of all people,” Kate Gulliver, Wayfair’s head of talent, said in the company-wide email that accompanied the results viewed by Business Insider.

Gulliver mentioned efforts such as integrating unconscious-bias content into training programs and expanding recruiting efforts through work with organisations such as the apprenticeship nonprofit Apprenti and ReacHire, which helps professional women return to work.

While Wayfair did not confirm the validity of the internal data, the breakdown generally lines up with other sources in regard to the representation of certain groups at the company.

According to Paysa, a company that publicizes salary data, roughly 85% of the roughly 2,000 Wayfair employees using Paysa’s platform who disclosed their ethnicity are white. According to Paysa data, about 12% of these Wayfair employees are Asian, 2% are Latino, and less than 1% are black. (Paysa’s profiles tend to skew toward more white-collar jobs, with the average Wayfair employee with a profile on the site making $US92,157.)

The underrepresentation of Hispanic, black, and Native American employees is a problem across the tech industry, especially in leadership positions.

A 2018 study of federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from 22 major Silicon Valley companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and eBay, found underrepresented minorities – people who did not identify as Asian or white – made up 14% or less of professional employees at each company. None of the 22 companies had teams of managers and executives in which underrepresented minorities made up more than 18% of the total.

Wayfair faced backlash on Tuesday when news broke that workers were planning a walkout in response to the company selling furniture to a contractor managing camps along the US southern border.


Read more:
Furious customers are threatening to boycott Wayfair over reports the company is furnishing migrant camps

Last week, employees found out that Wayfair sold more than $US200,000 worth of furniture to be used at a Carrizo Springs, Texas, facility being set up to detain young migrants,The Boston Globe reported. The Boston Globe said more than 500 employees signed a letter asking for the company to cease all business with contractors participating in the operation of migrant detention camps and establish a code of ethics for business-to-business sales.

“It’s clear that a lack of diversity in the board room as well as the creative team has a huge impact,” Chris Allieri, the founder of the brand consultancy Mulberry & Astor, told Business Insider.

“It’s one thing to wave a rainbow flag and an LGBT-themed logo, celebrate Hispanic Heritage or Black History months or run diverse ads, it’s another thing to make sure every single business decision you make doesn’t single out a group and promote racism, bigotry, and hate,” Allieri added.

According to The Globe, Wayfair leadership responded with a letter on Monday evening, saying that it is “standard practice to fulfil all orders” as a retailer.

“As business leaders, we also believe in the importance of respecting diversity of thought without our organisation and across our customer base,” the letter reads. “No matter how strongly any one of us feels about an issue, it is important to keep in mind that not all employees or customers agree.”

Wayfair faced boycott threats from customers on Tuesday. Politicians including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey spoke out in support of protesting Wayfair workers.

The company’s stock fell by more than 5% on Tuesday but was up more than 1% as of Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

CNN correspondent Cristina Alesci‏ tweeted, “Wayfair plans to announce today that it will donate the profits from the sale of $US200k worth of bedroom furniture for use in a migrant detention facility.”

Wayfair did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the topic.

If you are a Wayfair employee and have a story to share, reach out to [email protected]

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