Sean MacEntee / CC BY 2.0

Despite the rainbow nature of their users, recent employee statistics from Twitter and Facebook reveal a staggering lack of workforce diversity.

Twitter employs only 49 black people out of a total U.S. workforce of 2,910. This means that African-Americans represent a meager 1.7 percent of Twitter’s U.S. staff.

Facebook, which has actually doubled its number of black employees, fares even worse, with African-Americans representing less than 1.5 percent of the social networking company’s 5,479 U.S. employees, according to a report released Wednesday.

As Pew Research Center data show, black people use Twitter disproportionately more than white people: 27 percent of black adults and 25 percent of Hispanics use Twitter, compared with just 21 percent of white people. Added to the fact that African-Americans account for 13.6 percent of the U.S. population (according to the 2010 U.S. census), these figures appear to reinforce Silicon Valley’s notorious image of white homogeneity.

The Guardian reports on the Twitter figures:

The Rev Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, who has long campaigned for tech companies to be more transparent about their lack of minority employees, told the Guardian that black people are “becoming intolerant” of Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies’ lack of progress in making their offices more diverse.

[Twitter’s] stark lack of black employees comes despite the company’s repeated pledges to make its staff better reflect the diversity of its 302 million users – and as Twitter actively exploits its large number of minority users to bring in more advertising revenue.

“I am very disappointed,” Jackson said. “Black people are greater users of the product and capable of doing the jobs, but there has not been an adequate commitment to hire, train and maintain [black people].

“Some people call it ‘Black Twitter’ because we over-index so much, but they still don’t hire more black people. We are becoming intolerant with these numbers, there’s a big gap between their talk and their implementation.”

Jackson said Twitter “should set a timetable to make their workforce look like the market place, and a commitment to make the board of directors more diverse”.

He said that at the moment, Twitter is benefitting from black people’s love of its medium – which often leads to black issues trending worldwide – without paying enough back to the community. “They hire people they know, they trust and like,” Jackson said. “We’re not in that the circle.

The full article can be read here, and The Guardian’s Facebook commentary can be read here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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