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  • Concerns over race relations at Facebook are not something new.

    Concerns over race relations at Facebook are not something new. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 November 2019

The Medium letter came one year after another black Facebook manager accused the company of having “a black people problem.”

A group of 12 tech workers at Facebook published an open, anonymous letter on Nov. 7 on Medium, accusing the company of racism and bias against black emplyees and allowing a serious deterioration of the workplace culture.

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“Racism, discrimination, bias, and aggression do not come from the big moments,” the workers said. “It’s in the small actions that mount up over time and build into a culture where we are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognized, and never accepted.”

The letter documents and details a variety of discrimination and hostility incidents experienced by non-white staff. The letter was published the same week as Facebook’s annual ‘Black@’ conference.

“All of the incidents are factual, with witnesses corroborating the behaviors, and have been thoroughly documented,” the writers said.

One program manager described being told by two white colleagues to clean up after their breakfast mess and when they reported the incident, their supervisor only responded they should “dress more professionally." Others testified that supervisors and colleagues called them aggressive, arrogant, angry, and abnormal for sharing opinions in the same ways as their white colleagues.

“I spoke at a regular team meeting and gave my opinion about a topic I am a subject matter expert on. I was told after the meeting by the manager that I was disrespectful for speaking at this meeting, that my opinion was not wanted, that I was being arrogant in sharing that opinion, and not to speak at any future meetings unless called upon,” an employee said.

“My manager has directly asked at least two colleagues to provide me negative feedback on my performance review in order to influence my performance rating, which would negatively impact my total compensation. My colleagues refused and instead referred the incident to HR. HR took no action,” another employee stated.

“We are sad. Angry. Oppressed. Depressed. And treated every day through the micro and macro aggressions as if we do not belong here,” the employees wrote.

The letter also included screenshots of an app called Blind, allowing Facebook employees to anonymously post their experiences within the company. The screenshots showed racially degrading and offensive posts against black people.

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“These people make it seem like they work for the KKK,” one staff member reportedly wrote, referring to non-white employees, adding that “they should feel privileged that they were diversity hires and got into the company after we lowered our hiring standards. That’s just my opinion, though.” 

The screenshot is also followed by a poll showing that more than 66 percent of respondents felt that black employees “just complain to get attention.”

In a statement sent to reporters on Friday, Facebook’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Bertie Thomson expressed regrets saying that nobody should have to go through such experiences.

“We are sorry. It goes against everything that we stand for as a company. We’re listening and working hard to do better,” Thomson wrote.

Concerns over race relations at Facebook are not something new. In 2013, a diversity report showed that the company’s United States workforce was dominated by white men, while black and Hispanic employees made up just two and four percent of its staff, respectively.

The Medium letter came one year after another black Facebook manager accused the company of having “a black people problem.”

Mark Luckie, the former employee, had already described in a letter that the company’s racism despite its leadership paying strong service to put equitable policies in place and build a diverse staff. However, the stated convictions are not backed up in practice, according to the ex-worker.

“In some buildings, there are more ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters than there are actual black people”, Luckie wrote last year.

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