Twitter Hires Former Apple Exec To Lead Diversity Efforts
Four months after publicly committing to building a "more diverse Twitter," the microblogging company is bringing a new executive on board to lead its global diversity and inclusion efforts. However, Twitter's hiring decision is already attracting criticism because its new diversity chief is a white man, who is replacing the white woman who previously held that position.
Twitter announced the hiring of Jeffrey Siminoff (pictured) on Monday in a Tweet posted by vice president of human resources Brian "Skip" Schipper. Siminoff, a former employment law attorney, had been Apple's director of worldwide inclusion and diversity since September 2013, and previously headed diversity efforts at Morgan Stanley. We contacted Twitter for further details about Siminoff's hiring, but did not receive a response.
Siminoff will replace Janet Van Huysse, who has worked with Twitter's human resources department since 2009. She announced her departure Monday in a Tweet that stated, "After 6 incredible years, it's time for my next chapter."
New Diversity Goals
In general, the workforce of the tech industry remains heavily dominated by males. In its first release of ethnic and gender diversity data in 2014, Twitter revealed that its overall workforce was 70 percent male, while its tech workforce was only 10 percent female.
The company's ethnic makeup is also largely white -- 59 percent of the overall workforce -- with employees of Asian descent accounting for another 29 percent. African-Americans make up just 2 percent of Twitter's workforce, with Hispanic or Latino employees accounting for another 3 percent.
In a post on the company's blog in August, Van Huysse said Twitter has committed to significantly improving the representation of women and people of color in its workforce to better "reflect the vast range of people who use Twitter." By 2016, the company aimed to increase the proportion of female employees to 35 percent worldwide, as well as to increase underrepresented minorities in its U.S. workforce to 11 percent, she added.
'140-Character Slap in the Face'
During Siminoff's time at Apple, that company did improve the diversity of its workforce, although CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that "we know there is a lot more work to be done." In August, a year after it released its first figures on employee demographics, Apple reported that it had increased global hiring of women by 65 percent, while also increasing U.S. employment of Hispanics and African-Americans by double digits.
Siminoff, who like Apple's CEO is openly gay, also co-founded the LGBT advocacy group Out Leadership.
"The fact that Siminoff is gay has been touted by some as evidence of his understanding of diversity," Mark Luckie, Twitter's former manager of journalism and news, said today in a commentary on The Verge. However, "while at Twitter I received far more questions related to my blackness than I did my conspicuous homosexuality," he added.
Noting that Siminoff was the director of HR at Morgan Stanley when a black employee sued for "blatant discriminatory treatment," Luckie said that Twitter's hiring of Siminoff is "a 140-character slap in the face."