Facebook has a “black people problem” and is “failing” its black users and employees, according to a lengthy memo sent to all of its employees and published Tuesday on the social network by a former employee.
The memo, written by Mark Luckie, who is black and worked as Facebook’s strategic partner for global influencers focused on underrepresented voices, details a range of internal and external problems in how the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company treats African-Americans.
While noting that black users are some of the most engaged and active members of Facebook’s 2.2 billion-member community, Luckie writes that many are unable to find a “safe space” for dialogue on the platform, see their accounts suspended indefinitely and find their content being removed without notice.
Inside the tech giant — which, like most companies in Silicon Valley, has struggled to make its workforce reflect the diversity of its users — Luckie writes that some buildings at its sprawling Silicon Valley headquarters feature more “Black Lives Matter” posters than actual black employees.
“I’ve heard far too many stories from black employees of a colleague or manager calling them “hostile” or “aggressive” for simply sharing their thoughts in a manner not dissimilar from their non-black team members,” he writes. “A few black employees have reported being specifically dissuaded by their managers from becoming active in the [internal] Black@ group or doing “black stuff,” even if it happens outside of work hours.”
Although he does congratulate the tech giant for increasing the number of black employees in 2018 to 4 percent from 2 percent in 2016, Luckie also criticizes the firm’s human resources department for protecting managers instead of supporting employees.
Luckie also recounts watching some of his colleagues clutch their wallets or shove their hands deep in their pockets to hold their wallets tightly when he walks past them at MPK, the company’s vast Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in California.
“There is a pervasive problem at the company that needs to be addressed promptly in order to stem the tide of apathy,” Luckie writes. “Facebook can’t engender the trust of its black users if it can’t maintain the trust of its black employees.”
At the conclusion of the memo, he lists 10 recommendations, including more cultural competency training for operations teams that oversee content infractions; more focus groups with black users; more recruitment for roles outside of Menlo Park’s existing talent pool; and action items for managers and team members after each diversity audit.
Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesperson, provided the following statement to Fox News:
“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 the representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed,” he said.
“We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company,” Harrison added.
The memo’s publication comes on the same day that a Facebook executive was grilled by parliamentary leaders from nine different countries at a special hearing on disinformation in the United Kingdom.
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