November 6, 2022

Musk’s Twitter Layoffs Take A Hammer To Diversity And Inclusion Efforts

Over the last 48 hours, dozens of Twitter employees took to the platform to announce that they had lost their jobs following Elon Musk’s recent acquisition

Employees have flooded the app using the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked with an emoji to signify that their time at the social media giant has ended. 

After ousting CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett and chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde last week, Elon Musk has made it clear that things at Twitter will never be the same again.  

Impact on Black & Latinx staff

There is speculation that Musk will cut approximately half of Twitter’s 8,000 jobs. This axing of staff will disproportionally impact Black and Latinx employees, who comprise 9.7% and 8.4% of the organization.  

Some employees have also reported that Musk has dissolved all business resource groups (BRGs) such as Blackbirds and Twitter Women, with many group leaders announcing their job losses.

The removal of these support groups not only takes away the safety net from many employees but is also a clear sign that Twitter no longer supports the development and safety of its staff – which is quite a daunting thought. 

Blackbirds member Siobhan V. Massiah spent four years working in Twitter’s Live Event department. In a recent post, she said: My heart is broken in a way I can’t explain. It was announced that the new person running Twitter dissolved all the BRGs. Blackbirds technically doesn’t exist at the company anymore,”

“For many Black people, Blackbirds is the reason they chose to work at Twitter. We supported Black people who had never worked in tech to excel in their new spaces. We continued to uplift each other even when people left the company. Blackbirds is more than an ERG/BRG, it’s a community. What we built can never be dissolved.”

Twitter employee @moyheen also announced that she would leave the role, which she said: “she saw coming.” Although it is a sad moment, many have found solace in spending their final days at the office together. 

Human Rights & Legal Concerns

Former CEO Agrawal had been an avid supporter BRGs as well as the “work from anywhere” policy that was recognized to contribute to workplace diversity and inclusivity.

According to former Twitter employees, the entire human rights team has been cut as well as several staff known for the platform’s accessibility features. Chief People and Diversity Officer Dalana Brand also announced that she resigned the day Musk took over.

In addition to human rights-based concerns over Musk’s recent decisions, there are legal challenges. Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan has filed a class-action federal lawsuit has been filed against Musk for violating federal and state law by eliminating half of its workforce without 60 days’ notice.

Tech cuts 

The tech industry is in a historic slump, and the mass axing of staff isn’t anything new. Companies such as Lyft and Dapper Labs have decided to cut many of their teams. Additionally, companies like Amazon have entirely stopped hiring more corporate staff. 

As more tech companies continue to lay off workers and carry out hiring freezes – it’s hard to deny that Black people will bear the brunt of these acts. 

According to diversity experts, tech industry layoffs tend to undo the workforce diversity many organizations strive to meet, mainly because the roles diverse staff is hired into are seen as the most expendable. 

Sarah Kaplan, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, touched on the predictability of diverse initiatives being pushed to the side when companies decide to tighten their belts. 

 “They’re seen as an HR thing – a ‘nice to have,’ but not essential for businesses,” Kaplan said in an interview. “Companies are not doing this deliberately – there are biases in which they operate.” 

The age-old question right now is if the tech industry continues to cut jobs, how many Black & Latinx employees will be safe? 

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.