The PJ Tatler

Vibrant Diversity for Thee, But Not for Me

Not really much of a surprise, given the racial makeup of the tech industry in general, but embarrassing:

Twitter only has 49 black employees – out of 2,910 staff members in America. The 35 men and 14 women account for just 1.7 per cent of the firm’s US operation, which is 93.8 per cent white or Asian. It represents a stark lack of progress since last year, when senior executives promised to boost their number of African American staff from 2 per cent.

Right on schedule, here comes you-know-who:

Slamming the figures, released in a compulsory Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) report on Wednesday, Rev Jesse Jackson said people are ‘becoming intolerant’ of the stilted progress.

‘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],’ the civil rights leader, who is spearheading calls for diversity in tech, told The Guardian. The number of Hispanic employees also fails to reflect the proportion of Latino users, and of America’s Latino population. Twenty seven per cent of black adults use the site, and 25 per cent of Latinos, compared to 21 per cent of white users, according to the Pew Research Center.

Why the work force should racially reflect the makeup of the client base is, of course, left unexplained. But that’s not going to stop the grievance-mongers and shakedown artists:

‘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],’ the civil rights leader, who is spearheading calls for diversity in tech, told The Guardian. The number of Hispanic employees also fails to reflect the proportion of Latino users, and of America’s Latino population. Twenty seven per cent of black adults use the site, and 25 per cent of Latinos, compared to 21 per cent of white users, according to the Pew Research Center.

You’ll be thrilled to know that Twitter has a director of “diversity and inclusion”:

Responding to the figures and protestations last year, diversity and inclusion director Janet Van Huysse wrote a blog post promising to increase diversity. She wrote: ‘It makes good business sense that Twitter employees are representative of the vast and varied backgrounds of our users around the world.’

With her pledge, some general graphs were released that showed African Americans accounted for 2 per cent of the workforce. A year later, this figure has not increased.

What difference does it make? you ask. Twitter is a private company and theoretically it can hire, or not hire, whomever it wants. But… the Supreme Court just opened an enormous can of worms last week in its housing decision, when it ruled that intent doesn’t matter, only “disparate inpact” does.

Civil rights groups won a victory Thursday, as the Supreme Court ruled that claims of racial discrimination in housing cases shouldn’t be limited by questions of intent.

The court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision in a case in which a nonprofit group, the Inclusive Communities Project, said that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to “segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.”

The 5-4 ruling endorses the notion of citing disparate impact in housing cases, meaning that statistics and other evidence can be used to show decisions and practices have discriminatory effects — without proving that they’re the result of discriminatory intentions.

Watch for Jackson and others to take the import of this awful decision and start applying it to the private sector. And don’t tell me it can’t happen here; in the last two years of the Obama administration, anything goes. Just ask Tony Kennedy.