Civil Rights Activists Urge Twitter To Release Staff Diversity Records, Twitter Refuses

News & Views | Bené Viera | 07/18/2014 | 10:47 AM EDT

Rev. Jesse Jackson and ColorOfChange puts pressure on Twitter to release the gender and ethnic demographics of its company's employees

“Black Twitter” is real.

Its influence has been credited for ending the book deal of a juror from the George Zimmerman trial. Considering that more than a quarter of Black Internet users are on Twitter, civil rights activists want to ensure diversity in Twitter’s staff.

USA Today
reports Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and have put pressure on Twitter to release its gender and ethnic breakdown of its employees. The civil rights activists are using an attention-grabbing campaign on Twitter to do it.

“We come not to disrupt but to fulfill the promise of social media," Jackson said in an interview this week.

ColorOfChange is asking its one million members to sign an online petition to express their support of pressuring the San Francisco-based company to release its demographic makeup. On Friday (July 18), the Netroot Nations annual political conference in Detroit is holding a session focused on Twitter and said it would ask people to “tweet out” to Twitter.

Unfortunately, Twitter has remained silent, refusing to adhere to activists’ request. On Wednesday, a rep from Twitter said the company had nothing to announce “at this time.”

"It is ironic that Twitter is still resisting releasing this information," Jackson said. "We are over-indexed on Twitter as users, and we are under-indexed as employees."

In the past Jackson, has succeeded in getting Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo to release reports that have revealed what we already knew: the technology industry is overwhelming male, White and Asian.

Twitter users are more diverse than any other social network with 41 percent of its users being Black, Latino and Asian American.

Executive director of ColorOfChange Rashad Robinson said Twitter has an "obligation to be transparent and clear with the community that has helped them grow."

“We are not going to stand by and be silent while Twitter continues to benefit and grow off the creativity, the ideas and the engagement from our community while we are being shut out from the economic growth and opportunities that come with that," Robinson said.

Twitter has been called to task on its lack of diversity before for having only one woman on its company’s board. In addition, nine of the 11 senior executives are White men.

Other technology and online companies like Apple and Pandora have said they plan to release the information of its ethnic and gender demographics, so it’s strange Twitter refuses.

Jackson said urging the release of the information is only the first step. Activists plan to encourage companies to set timetables and goals on hiring more people of color.

Jackson added, “Releasing this data is just the beginning of our quest for equality."

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