December 21, 2023

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Raises Alarm Over Disproportionate Layoffs Of Black Tech Workers In Letter

Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has written a letter to the US Department of Labor addressing the disproportionate layoffs of Black tech employees.

African American Lee and several other Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members wrote the letter to Julie Su, the acting secretary of the US Department of Labor.

Black Tech Employee Layoffs

According to the letter, since the beginning of 2023, more than 240,000 tech workers have experienced layoffs, which is a more than 50% increase from 2022.

Lee found that minorities and women make up most of the year’s tech layoffs.

“We write to express our concerns with recent reports highlighting the impacts of widespread layoffs within the tech industry and its disproportionate impacts on the African American community and women,” the letter reads, according to The Grio.

“Tech companies who previously agreed to address bias and discrimination and create greater opportunities in the workforce are now quietly defunding diversity pledges.”

The letter comes amid several accusations against Big Tech companies such as Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter, which was sued this year for race discrimination during mass layoffs.

Tech giant Meta is also being sued by content moderators in Kenya for “unlawful redundancy” and discriminatory hiring practices.

A Fall In Inclusitivty 

In 2015, the CBC launched Tech 2020 to ensure that Black Americans would be better represented in the industry by 2020.

CBC’s Tech 2020 was an initiative to bring together the best minds in the tech, nonprofit, education, and public sectors to increase African American inclusion at all levels of the tech industry.

The CBC aimed to seek to engage all stakeholders to help them achieve the goal, whether they represented a nonprofit, a company, a school, or even a Member of Congress.

However, Lee states that the tech companies that pledged to be more inclusive need to catch up to their promise.

“With all the Supreme Court decisions and with all of the backsliding, especially by Republicans, it’s very important that we be very assertive in our fight for equity and justice within the private and public sector,” Lee told The Grio.

“This country is supposed to be a representative democracy where you include people, and you don’t discriminate against them.”

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.