Snap, the company behind Snapchat, released its first diversity report today after years of resisting pressure to make those statistics public. The report details the minimal growth the 3,195-person company has made in regards to hiring people of color and women. Black and African American people only represent 4.1 percent of the entire workforce, the report states, and Hispanic / Latinx people make up 6.8 percent. Both groups account for only 3.2 percent of leadership. The company didn’t specify the percentage in technical roles.
Meanwhile, women only make up 32.9 percent of Snap’s workforce with only 16 percent in technical roles. Along with the numbers, Snap says it’s setting new goals, including doubling the number of women in tech at Snap by 2023 and doubling the number of underrepresented US racial and ethnic minorities at Snap by 2025. Long-term, the team says it wants to “reflect the racial and gender diversity (including non-binary) of the different places where we operate.”
To reach these milestones, it’ll also implement new initiatives, like tying leadership performance to diversity, expanding its mentorship program, and innovating its machine learning tools to prevent bias. Along with the diversity report, it released its “CitizenSnap” report, a 50-page document outlining its work in social and environmental causes. It also mentions how Snap’s providing employees based out of its Santa Monica, California headquarters with a “robust living wage” of $70,000 and adjusting that number based on where employees are located.
The diversity report’s release arrives after more than a month of increased scrutiny of Snap’s diversity and its product. CEO Evan Spiegel told employees in an all-hands meeting last month that the team wouldn’t release these diversity numbers publicly because it might perpetuate the belief that Silicon Valley companies aren’t diverse. (For comparison, Facebook released its seventh diversity report this year, and 45.3 percent of its employees identify as women, Black, or Hispanic.) Spiegel made these comments after a Mashable report detailed claims of a racist and sexist workplace. One employee, for example, said they were asked to replace a lead image of Black performers with a “friendlier face.” The same manager told another employee that a story was “too black-heavy” and asked that some snaps of Black people be replaced with people of other races.
Although Snap was reportedly investigating those claims, the company has continued to struggle with representation. Last month, it released an augmented reality lens for Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the US, that allowed users to “smile and break the chains.” People said this was an offensive interpretation of the holiday. This wasn’t the first lens Snap apologized for, either — the company previously released a lens that depicted Bob Marley in 2016 and an anime-themed filter later that year. With the Juneteenth lens, Oona King, Snap’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, apologized and said Black team members were directly involved in creating the lens and didn’t think of the implications of white people using the lens.
“We reviewed the Lens from the standpoint of Black creative content, made by and for Black people, so did not adequately consider how it would look when used by non-Black members of our community,” she wrote.
Now, Snap is joining many of its counterparts in releasing its diversity numbers, which, while not great, set it up to be more accountable to the public.