Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Twitter workforce sees male majority

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Succumbing to growing public pressure, Twitter released the gender and ethnic breakdown of its workforce Wednesday, showing that it looks like most other major technology companies: overwhelmingly male, white and Asian.

In the U.S., nearly 90 per cent of Twitter's workers are white or Asian. And more than 90 per cent of technology jobs in the U.S. are held by whites or Asians.

Men make up 70 per cent of all staff but 90 per cent of technology staff, according to figures released by the company's vice-president for diversity and inclusion, Janet Van Huysse.

Twitter pledged to take steps to diversify its staff.

"We want to be more than a good business; we want to be a business that we are proud of," Huysse said.

Diversity has become a hotly debated issue as some of Silicon Valley's most powerful companies have begun revealing the makeup of their workforces.

These companies say they are intent on diversifying their ranks to stay in touch and in tune with their customers around the world.

Over the past two months, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have reported that their staffs are between 62 per cent and 70 per cent male. Whites and Asians make up between 88 per cent and 91 per cent.

That has dismayed blacks and Hispanics who say they are major consumers of technology yet make up just a tiny percentage of workers reaping the economic rewards in the nation's top paying industry.

Of Twitter's U.S. employees, three per cent are Hispanic and two per cent black. Yet blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans account for 41 per cent of U.S. users, making Twitter more racially diverse than any other social network, including Facebook.

More than a quarter of black Internet users in the U.S. are on Twitter and "Black Twitter" -- the congregation of black users on the service -- is considered one of the driving forces behind the company's popularity and success.

"The numbers are pathetic but this is a step in the right direction," Rev. Jesse Jackson said in an interview Wednesday.

His Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the civil rights organization ColorofChange.org began campaigning on Twitter for the company to share demographic information and host a public forum on plans to increase the diversity of its staff. They gathered more than 25,000 signatures with an online petition.

Jackson called on Twitter to begin setting targets and a timetable.

"We are going to come back out there real soon and begin to convene Silicon Valley companies to work out a plan with them to achieve inclusion," he said.

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2014 B10

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