THE SPECTRUM: Rep. Beatty clashes with Facebook over inclusivity
Central Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is looking for Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg to act.
One month after a Congressional hearing during which Beatty challenged Zuckerberg on Facebook’s diversity commitment, a group of 12 tech employees at the company published an anonymous letter accusing Facebook of building a culture where blacks and Hispanics are seen as quotas that are never recognized or accepted.
It’s an echo of Beatty’s battle of words with the tech billionaire during the hearing.
“I’ve been here before with Facebook about the lack of diversity and inclusion,” Beatty said. “I’ve discussed this repeatedly with your company over the past years.”
As head of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the House, and vice-chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, Beatty grilled Zuckerberg on an alleged lack of diversity at the highest levels of Facebook.
“You have a stable of law firms that work on legal cases across the country,” she said. “How many diverse-owned or women-owned law firms are contracted by Facebook? Just give me a number or a range.”
“Congresswoman, I don’t know…,” Zuckerberg responded.
“I take that as I don’t know,” Beatty shot back, cutting off Zuckerberg’s response.
Facebook has been criticized for its lack of internal diversity and alleged practices that allow advertisers to discriminate by using zip codes to exclude black Facebook users.
“It’s almost like you think this is a joke, when you have ruined the lives of many people, discriminated against them,” Beatty grilled Zuckerberg. “Do you know what percentage of African Americans are on Facebook, in comparison to majority folks? Do you know what the percentages are?”
“People are using the Facebook…,” Zuckerberg responded.
“Yes. Do you know what the percentages are for African Americans?”
“I don’t because we don’t collect the races of people.”
“And I’d like an answer because this is appalling and disgusting to me.”
After the hearing, Beatty said she never received a response.
“I have not had any responses from him to this point,” she said.
Beatty said she was disappointed in Zuckerberg’s answers and the lack of response from Facebook to date.
“This is about making sure, for generations to come, that there are women, that there are people of color, and that there are veterans and people who live in rural America that are all included in the hiring process,” she said.
A Facebook spokeswoman responded to the anonymous letter from frustrated minority workers:
“We are sorry. It goes against everything that we stand for as a company. We’re listening and working hard to do better.”
“We know what happens when you’re denied the opportunity, especially as women or as African American or as other minorities, to have that opportunity to move up the ladder,” Beatty said.