Dear Twitter, Your Pledge Towards Diversity Is Falling Flat

Malaika Nicholas
123 Kickass Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10305

Dear Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and Vice-president of diversity and inclusion Janet Van Huysse,

I’m excited to apply for a position at Twitter in your New York office. As a graduate of Emory University with excellent verbal and written communication skills, an obsession with pop culture and Internet trends, and the willingness to learn quickly and effectively, I know I am the motivated, hard-working, focused, and super cool candidate you are looking for.

But I noticed something that’s very concerning. Out of the 2,910 U.S employees, you’ve only hired 49 Black people, 35 men and 14 women. Here’s why this number is simply unacceptable:

  • 22 percent of African-American internet users are on Twitter, compared to 16 percent of Whites.
  • 40 percent of 18–29 Black Americans claim to use Twitter as of 2013.
  • Black Twitter is a very real entity and is a community that shouldn’t be ignored. This force was responsible for bringing the nation’s attention to the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August and influential hashtag campaigns including the #BlackLivesMattermovement and #BringBackOurGirls

That 22 percent figure may not be significant to you, but inspired by the words of Meredith Clark, a professor at the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, “You have to have the cultural background to understand the conversation as it’s playing out” and only 1.7 percent of your staff have that capability.

However, I applaud your current efforts to “build a Twitter we can be proud of” by creating a number of employee-led groups, actively recruiting from under-represented communities, and sharing your ethnic and gender diversity data, but that is only half the battle.

Instead of recruiting small number of “qualified” minorities employees, I say create them. According to 2013 data from the College Board compiled by Georgia Tech’s Barbara Ericson, only 18 percent of high-schoolers taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam are women; eight percent were Hispanic, and four percent were African-American. More specifically, no women in Mississippi or Montana took the exam; Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota had no Hispanic students take the exam; and Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Utah had no Black students take the exam.

Begin by addressing the gender and racial gap in tech with elementary, middle, and high school kids. Twitter has the influence to reach out directly to school districts nationwide and find ways to improve current computer science curriculum.

In addition I suggest introducing Social Media or Tech related youth programs into summer programs, youth groups, summer camps and/or recreation centers, specifically targeting women and underrepresented minorities.

Most importantly, set the standard. Other tech giants including Google, Amazon, and Facebook have also pledged millions of dollars and resources to increasing their staff diversity, and yet they are also falling short on their pledges. This is the perfect time and opportunity to set a new standard in the tech industry and create a model that other tech companies, both big and small, can replicate.

I’d love to contribute my skills, talent, passions, and experiences to bettering the Twitter community as the 15th Black woman on your staff and continue to push Twitter towards fulfilling its commitment to making inclusiveness a cornerstone of our culture.

Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to speaking to you soon.

Sincerely,

Malaika Nicholas

Contributor @Usspire

Initially published on http://signedsealedneverdelivered.blogspot.com/

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