West indian culture

Jack Dorsey’s departure leaves Twitter culture at a crossroads. What new CEO Parag Agrawal will do next has big implications for diversity in tech, experts say


Jack Dorsey has become a strong advocate for anti-racism, but his company, Twitter, has struggled with diversity.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

  • With Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO of Twitter, the tech giant is at a cultural turning point.

  • New CEO Parag Agrawal faces diversity challenges, including the representation of people of color.

  • CEO consultants say Agrawal has the opportunity to make Twitter a leader in diversity and inclusion.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is leaving behind a complicated legacy as he steps down as CEO. The tech entrepreneur created the Internet’s first public conversation forum; he democratized the way news is shared. But the platform has also been used to amplify misinformation, violent political rhetoric and harassment.

Dorsey has become a leading advocate for social justice and anti-racism, speaking out on the importance of diversity and donating millions of dollars to the Ibram X. Kendi Center for Anti-Racism Research at Boston University and the Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights camp.

But Twitter has struggled to be represented and included in its ranks for years, as evidenced by controversies such as a fraternity-themed company party and a report that an executive told an Asian employee that ‘she could pass for white if she wore sunglasses.

Internal of the company diversity numbers also still miss the mark. Blacks and Latinos collectively make up only 11% of leaders (although Twitter has announced a goal to have 25% of its executives be people of color or women by 2025).

With Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal taking power, the tech giant is at a crossroads. CEO consultants specializing in diversity, equity and inclusion say Agrawal could make Twitter a company that promotes truth and fairness, or let Dorsey’s progress slip through the cracks. The result has implications not only for the company’s 5,500 employees, but also the world.

“It will be a big blow for Agrawal,” Slma Shelbayah, communications director at consulting firm Yardstick Management, told Insider. “These are great shoes to fill, not just because of Dorsey, but because of social expectations around the world and on Twitter. Everyone has asked for change and representation.”

A Twitter spokesperson said: “Since our inclusion and diversity report in March 2020, we have made significant progress, and the representation of under-represented minorities has increased overall in technology roles and roles. leadership, even though we always know we have more work to do […] We are delighted to be doing this job with Parag at the helm. He’s long been a champion of Twitter’s journey to become the most diverse, inclusive and accessible tech company in the world. “

Double the transparency

Parag Agarwal

Twitter’s new CEO is Parag Agrawal, its former chief technology officer.Twitter

Twitter shares its workforce demographics The data publicly, but like most businesses, it does not share information on staff turnover, retention and promotion levels, broken down by race, age or gender.

In his departure letter, Dorsey said he wanted Twitter to be the most transparent company in the world. Sacha Thompson, Fortune 500 DEI consultant, said Agrawal must rise to the occasion.

“Twitter’s leadership hasn’t really pushed the boundaries,” Thompson said. “We need to disaggregate this data. Where are black, Latin American and Native American employees stuck? Where’s the churn rate? What are the challenges they face? “

Making this data public and discussing it with employees can help managers identify better ways to promote and sponsor underrepresented workers, Thompson said. This could lead to better representation of people of color not only within the company but on the platform. Several consultants have said the lack of black leaders on Twitter is particularly upsetting given the power and presence of Black Twitter, which has fueled social discourse on topics ranging from the murder of Trayvon Martin to the #MeToo movement.

“The murders of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, the reality of street harassment, the racial crisis that is brewing in the Dominican Republic, these are all stories that have become of major importance because Black Twitter has ensured that the world understands what was going on, “Daily Beast reporter Stereo Williams wrote in a 2015 article.

Twitter’s new CEO has the opportunity to improve representation in leadership, listen to marginalized employees, and better represent some of its most important users.

“Agrawal needs to find diverse leadership that can provide accurate representation at the top of the company,” Shelbayah said. “People have asked and waited far too long.”

Clear your way for honest conversations

Twitter office

Twitter executives should set even more ambitious representation goals, consultants said.David Paul Morris / Getty Images

Led by Dorsey and assisted by Twitter DCI Manager Dalana Brand, the social media giant has invested heavily in improving its culture, especially over the past two years.

In 2020, Twitter compensated leaders of employee resource groups (like the Employee Group for Black Workers), added additional options for mental health support during an increase in anti-Asian racism and around it. of Derek Chauvin’s trial, and partnered with visionaries like Kendi to harbor anti-racism. talks.

Twitter’s corporate culture is still being built. In 2019, Twitter hired Dantley Davis, vice president of design, to help reshape its culture. His job was to respond to complaints from some people in the company that it was “too nice” and did not promote criticism and innovation, The New York Times reported this summer. But the employees described his style as straightforward and harsh, and they said it annoyed the workers. Twitter has been investigating complaints against Davis, who remains in his post, and he said he would take a step back to reconsider his management style, according to the report.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment, saying, “We do not discuss private employment issues out of consideration and respect for everyone involved.”

Agrawal has the opportunity to reshape the way Davis and other leaders communicate with employees, said Celeste Headlee, a consultant and DCI author who has worked with dozens of tech companies.

“As a communications and diversity expert, I feel like there just might not be the totally honest and genuine conversations that take place in meetings on Twitter,” Headlee said.

She suggested Twitter executives and employees take communication training on how to have authentic conversations where workers feel safe to express themselves.

“Leaders need to make sure that voices are heard and that people have the psychological status they need to speak out about the things that bother them or the ideas they have,” she said. . “This is how you progress.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Source link