A former Facebook employee on Tuesday went public with a memo saying the company is failing to include black people in its workforce and on the social network.
Mark Luckie said that he shared the message with all Facebook employees around the world early this month, shortly before his final day as a strategic partner manager focused on underrepresented voices.
"Facebook has a black people problem," Luckie, who is black, said in the memo.
"Facebook's disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees."
The California-based social network did not respond to a request for comment. Luckie described black people as among the most engaged demographics on the social network, but maintained that their efforts to create safe havens for conversation on Facebook are being derailed by the platform.
Content has been removed and accounts suspended after non-black people report content that doesn't violate Facebook policies as hate speech, according to Luckie.
Black employees typically hear colleagues comment, "I didn't know black people worked at Facebook," he contended. He noted that black employees now represent 4 percent of Facebook's workforce as compared to 2 percent in 2016.
"In some buildings, there are more ‘Black Lives Matter' posters than there are actual black people," Luckie said.
A Facebook diversity report released in July confirmed the 4 percent figure and pointed out that the percentage of black employees in business or sales roles grew to 8 percent.
"But we continue to have challenges recruiting Black and Hispanic employees in technical roles and senior leadership," chief diversity officer Maxine Williams said in the report. Luckie questioned whether the input of Facebook workers hired with an eye toward diversity was being incorporated into projects.
He maintained that he had heard stories from other black employees who told of being called hostile or aggressive by colleagues or managers for sharing thoughts the way others do.
"Too many black employees can recount stories of being aggressively accosted by campus security beyond what was necessary," Luckie said.
"To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic."
A man named Carl Smith replied to Luckie's post on Facebook, saying that his experience as a black man at the company was not universal.
"Mr Luckie doesn't speak for all of us here. Ironically, Mark and I started at Facebook on the same day. I'm still here," Smith wrote.
"In the office, I often wear ‘pro black' t-shirts, Colin Kaepernick jerseys, or Black Lives Matter shirts to work and I feel completely comfortable doing so because I truly believe I can be my authentic self every day that I come to work," he said.
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