Here’s how Snap’s diversity stacks up against Silicon Valley
For years, as major tech companies shared regular reports on the diversity of their workforces, Snap Inc. kept that data secret.
Earlier this summer, Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel cited the regular drumbeat of unchanging diversity numbers as a reason to keep his own company’s information private. When asked about the practice at an all-employee meeting in June, Spiegel reportedly said he was concerned that the reports “effectively normalize the current makeup of the tech industry,” which “reinforces the perception that tech is not a place for underrepresented groups.”
At the same time, he promised that the numbers would finally be forthcoming this year, in a “new version of a diversity report.”
That report came out Wednesday, as part of a larger “CitizenSnap” report that details the company’s philanthropic and civic-minded initiatives. The diversity numbers show that Snap’s workforce looks a lot like those of its Silicon Valley peers: mostly male, especially in technical roles, and mostly white, with a large percentage of Asian employees.
Two-thirds of the company is male, with men making up 83% of employees in technical roles and 46% of employees in non-technical roles. In the U.S., where most of Snap’s employees work, 51% of employees are white, 33% are Asian, 6.8% are Latino, and 4% are Black.
Releasing diversity reports has become standard across the tech industry since 2014, when giants such as Google and Facebook relented under public pressure and began reporting their internal numbers, and smaller companies began to follow suit. Five years later, the tech industry is still far more male, white and Asian than California or the country at large, with most companies looking strikingly similar to Snap.
Snap is less diverse in many measures than Twitter, its closest social media peer by valuation and workforce size, which is 57% male and 41% white, but has a higher percentage of Latino employees than most tech companies that report their numbers. By and large, its workforce looks like other large, public tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Spiegel, who has led the company since he cofounded it with Bobby Murphy in 2011, has committed to firm goals to change the company’s demographics.
The company’s stated short-term goals are to double the number of women working in technical roles by 2023 and double the number of employees from underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities at the company as a whole by 2025, with a stated long-term goal of reflecting the racial and gender diversity of each country where the company operates in those countries.
Over the course of this summer, a number of tech companies have set goals of increasing representation of various groups by a certain percentage — 30% is the most common — but Snap’s goal of doubling numbers is both more concrete and might result in unchanged overall demographics, if the company doubles in size in the same time frames. Snap’s workforce ballooned in its early years, from 600 employees in 2015 to over 3,000 by 2017, but that growth largely plateaued in recent years, increasing to 3,195 employees by the end of 2019.
To try to widen its hiring pipeline, the company is also committing to interviewing candidates from different backgrounds for each new role, and changing job requirements to allow for equivalent work experience in the place of a bachelor’s degree. Snap also announced a fixed minimum of a $70,000 “living wage” salary for its workers in the U.S.
Unlike many businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Snap is in a position to hire. Its daily active user base grew 17% in the past year, from 203 million to 238 million, and its revenue for the second quarter grew in step, climbing 17% over last year’s spring quarter to $454 million despite the global economic slowdown.
The report’s publication comes as Snap is facing increased scrutiny over racism in its past workplace culture and its product. Former Snap employees of color spoke to tech publication Mashable in June about how managers on the company’s editorial products tried to limit the number of Black people featured in Snapchat stories. The company has launched a formal investigation into these allegations. Later in June, the company also came under fire for an interactive camera filter to commemorate Juneteenth that asked users to smile to break cartoon chains that appeared on screen. Snap apologized, and said that it would investigate that decision as well.
In a blog post published along with the CitizenSnap and diversity reports, Spiegel addressed the racist history of the U.S. and how he plans to address the issues at Snap that are in his control. “It is clear that we have a choice: allow these inequities to be perpetuated in the United States — or do our part to better fulfill the shared values we seek to uphold as a society,” Spiegel wrote. “There is no doubt that today we fall short of our aspirations. We have an overwhelming amount of work to do, and our team feels strongly that it is important to hold ourselves accountable publicly.”
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