These past few weeks have been pretty overwhelming, especially for the black community. Besides justice and wanting to be seen as human, I really want non-black people to not only understand Black Lives Matter but also support it. When I see other ethnicities show their support for the BLM movement, I’m honestly thankful them wanting to send the message to their communities. The movement gets stronger when all people come together.
What about companies, though? Specifically – what about tech companies?
I was scrolling through Twitter when I found a Blavity article on what tech companies are saying about the BLM movement. I really liked the posts by Twitter, Google, and Instagram, and the article touched on the issue of diversity within these same tech companies. It got me wondering how these hotshot tech companies practiced what they preached.
So let’s start with Google.
— Google (@Google) July 7, 2016
Google released the data in May of 2014 to represent what diversity looks like in their company. The staff was 61% white, 30% Asian, 3% Hispanic, 2% black, and majority male. Fast forward to 2016 with two more categories: “Other” and “Two or more races”. As of January 2016, their staff is <1% other, 2% black, 3% Hispanic, 3% two or more races, 32% Asian, and 59% white, and 69% are male. Sure, this past year they have given over five million dollars in grants to racial justice organizations, which is pretty amazing. But compared to 2015, there hasn’t been that much of improvement within their company — which doesn’t convince me that they’re really trying to be a “leader” when it comes to diversity.
Next up to the plate is Facebook.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has gotten on my good side before for standing behind the BLM movement and taking the time to explain to his employees who didn’t get the memo. Yet, when I found out that Facebook takes down video evidence of police abusing their power due to “glitches,” it was pretty clear that the company wasn’t following their words with actions. The numbers also show that only 2% is of their workforce is black. About 4% is Hispanic, 38% is Asian, 52% are white, and 67% of the workforce is male. Diversity isn’t their strength either—or really for any company in Silicon Valley.
And here we have our beloved Twitter.
— Twitter (@Twitter) July 8, 2016
— Twitter Blackbirds (@Blackbirds) July 8, 2016
Black people use Twitter at higher levels than other internet users. Twitter tweeted #BlackLivesMatter, #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, and even added a custom emoji. What doesn’t make sense is that you look at Twitter’s employment, only 2% is black. This isn’t just about Google, Facebook, and Twitter. This problem involves all tech companies who aren’t making a change (or least not trying hard enough). We’re 73% of internet users and I’m pretty sure it’s not like there aren’t black people graduating from the computer science field. Actually, USA 2014 comparison between black computer science graduates and those who get hired showed only about half of them get hired at the major tech companies.
These tech companies don’t like to hire black people, yet are happy to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement. You have a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. themed-playlist on Spotify, advertising Periscope, and even Uber used gun violence to their benefit. Speaking of Uber: the image of Deray McKesson of being arrested for no reason while protesting didn’t bother Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. He instead focused on the Twitter Black Birds logo and mentioned how “Amazing to see tech as vehicle for social change.”
Benioff did post an apology after deleting the tweet, but doesn’t it make you laugh? I can’t help but wonder: Do these tech companies believe that we would be nowhere without them? Using social media, like Twitter, of course spread the BLM movement further and faster. Yet, the movement would still be here and survive if these tech companies weren’t around. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t have Facebook and they achieved many accomplishments. Harriet Tubman didn’t have Uber to take her back and forth to get over 300 slaves to freedom.
Tech companies feel comfortable with making profit off the movement because they believe we’d be nothing without them, that we wouldn’t grow. They shouldn’t see this as a chance to overflow their pockets, but an opening to seriously discuss what’s going on and seriously make an effort to back up their words.