While diversity and equality represent the goal in today’s multicultural society, racialized groups continue to be disadvantaged in the business environment. African-American employees need to work harder in order to keep their jobs and to advance in their careers, and they are more likely to be fired for unsubstantial reasons. African-American women are less likely to be promoted in the corporate world than any other group in the country, including White women. As Galabuzi (94) shows, as of 2000, racialized groups in Canada earned less than Whites, despite having similar studies and experience. Furthermore, racialized groups were more likely to be unemployed as compared to the general population (Galabuzi 107). This reflects the companies’ likeliness to hire Whites rather than racialized individuals. Such is the case of Twitter, a social media company which failed to ensure a diverse working environment in their company, despite the good reputation of companies in the niche, which are now for being libertarian, equalitarian and forward-thinking. Twitter’s example shows that exclusion is still a sad reality of the present-day business environment, where African-American employees have fewer chances to be employed in large companies as compared to Whites.
As companies in the Silicon Valley became larger and more important in the business world, they have been expected to become role models in diversity practices. However, in 2015, Twitter had a total of 2,910 employees, but only 49 Black employees, of which only 14 were female. This case shows that tech companies do not do enough to promote diversity in their companies. Consequently, associations which fight against discrimination in the work field have grown more and more intolerant with this kind of discrimination (Neate). They have targeted the company because, as Neate showed, Twitter’s employee distribution did not reflect the wide racial diversity of its 302 billion users. Consequently, while Twitter takes advantage of an immensely diverse group of users in order to bring more advertising revenue, it does not give back to the society by helping to counter the effect of historical racial discrimination, which continues to affect African –Americans to a great extent.
Historical discrimination in the United States has led to increased poverty rates among African-Americans as compared to Whites. According to Gordon Nembhard, color continues to represent a good indicator of poverty in the United States. Thus, the author argues that, “the average African American household owns at best about 15% (or 15 cents of every dollar) of the wealth the average white household owns” (Gordon Nembhard). This shows that African Americans are more likely to be poor than Whites. This is because they are more likely to be less educated, unemployed, and to come from poor families. Moreover, this marginalized group is more likely to have children to support, and consequently, economic well –being is extremely important (Gordon Nembhard).
The reality of racialized poverty is even worse in the case of women. Minority women are discriminated both because of their race, and because of their gender. In the case presented in this paper, Twitter employs a much lower number of African-American women as compared to African American men. The explanation for this situation is the stereotypical construction of African Americans. Galabuzi shows that, “racialized women are often portrayed as less competent, less skilled, less disciplined” (127). This misconception is extremely harmful for African-American women, who are already discriminated based on gender. African-American women may have difficulties finding a job and may be more likely to work in temporary positions and in low-level positions. Also, they can access higher levels of management with great difficulty. This is despite the fact that racialized women tend to be better educated and more responsible than racialized men (Galabuzi 127). They also tend to be more hard-working, despite the fact that they are often single parents.
The pressure on racialized women is added to an already discriminatory work environment, where women have been historically disadvantaged. Women have been unable to break the glass ceiling which limited their access to the top positions of the companies, despite decades of presence in the work environment. Twitter also proves to be deficient in this area. As Neate shows, “As well as lacking in ethnic minorities, Twitter also lacks gender diversity, with its workforce being 70% male. Among its core technology employees, 90% are male and just eight out 37 (or 21%) of executives and senior leaders are female”. This shows that gender discrimination is extremely high in this sector. Perhaps, one explanation for the low presence of women in this company is that women have not been encouraged to study information technology in their school years, which is still perceived as a masculine interest. The socialization of young girls towards fields which are considered more feminine, such as teaching or nursing, adds to the fact that, even when women do major in this field, they are not perceived as competent as male counterparts.
Furthermore, gender inequality is prevalent in the entire work environment, regardless of the sector in which women choose to pursue a career. The fact that women are so dramatically underrepresented in Oxfam’s report on the distribution of world wealth demonstrates that men overwhelmingly control the wealth distribution in the world. While inequality between men and women persists in the business sector, efforts are being made by governments and the private sector to close the gender gap, as well as the racial gap. Accordingly, among the strategies which may promote the redistribution of world wealth, researchers have shown that the government must take steps to ensure that women are compensated for the unpaid care they provide to children and disabled members of their families. Governments must also commit themselves to close the pay gap, which continues to affect women in all societies (Oxfam 9). These measures should financially benefit women on the long term, which is particularly important today, when many women raise their children alone.
Apart from African-Americans, other racialized groups also suffer from discrimination in the work place, as the case of Twitter also shows. According to Neate, at Twitter, 93.8% of all the employees are White and Asian, and only 180 persons of a total workforce of 2,910 are employees from other minority groups. Apart from the 49 African-Americans, there are also 68 Hispanics, 13 native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders, and only 3 Native Americans (Neate). This large discrepancy is particularly disturbing since Twitter’s users include a very diverse array of races and nationalities. Perhaps most importantly, African-Americans use Twitter in larger numbers than Whites (Neate), which makes this situation appear as even more unbalanced and discriminatory. As Rev. Jess Jackson, the president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition shows, Twitter should make a commitment to give back to the community by actively hiring, training and maintaining African American employees. Instead, the human resource managers at Twitter “hire people they know, they trust and like” (Jackson, quoted in Neate). This discriminatory hiring practice goes against Twitter’s official policy which theoretically emphasizes diversity.
The discrimination of minorities other than African-Americans is also noticed by other authors as well. While African-Americans represent one of the most important minority groups in both the United States and Canada, other racialized groups are exposed to racism and suffer its economic consequences as well, as Twitter’s case shows. For example, in answering an online poll, Chinese and South-Asian respondents showed that frequently or at least sometimes, they lost a potential job opportunity due to their ethnicity (Todd). Moreover, South Asians were more likely to experience workplace discrimination than Chinese individuals. This shows that certain minorities are less tolerated than others. As the above Twitter demographic shows, this is true for the case analyzed here as well. At Twitter, Asian Americans are hired in much larger proportions than other minority groups. This is perhaps because Asians have been stereotyped as being particularly efficient and hard-working employees. While this stereotype helps this racial group to acquire more jobs as compared to other racial minorities, they are still disadvantaged, as compared to Whites, Todd shows.
Traditionally, one of the explanations offered by employers and other members of the society for these discriminatory practices is the education gap, which creates a discrepancy between the levels of competency of White and racial minority groups. However, as Galabuzi shows, these arguments are unsubstantial and they are being constantly challenged by the “documented evidence of racially discriminatory barriers in employment as provided in a number of reports and studies, including the Commission on Equality in Employment in 1984” (143). Galabuzi (143) argues that these barriers are due to purely racist factors, with no relation to other factors, such as educational achievement. In other words, when two employees have the same education and experience, race may play the ultimate role in the decision of employing one candidate and not the other. In addition, in many cases, as shown in the Twitter example, human resource managers hire within a close network of acquaintances, or otherwise referred individuals, because they keep information on available positions within a closed circle. White employees are more likely to have White acquaintances and this leads to a proliferation of racial minority exclusion.
The exclusion of racial minorities from the business sector is based on the more complex issue of social exclusion. The marginalization of minorities has led to their concentration in ghettoes and slums, characterized by poverty, unemployment, low school attendance and violence. The marginalization of African-Americans and other racial groups has meant that they had lower access to proper housing, quality education, training and well-paid jobs. This led to the proliferation of violence and victimization in prominently racialized neighborhoods. This isolation of the African American communities in particular, has led to the reinforcement of old stereotypes which perceive Blacks as uncivilized. As Winlow and Hall (22) shows, social exclusion is determined by historical transformations which lead to social fragmentation and economic insecurity. Because of the lack of social privileges, the members of these communities are destined to inherit and pass their poverty to the other generation. It is difficult to escape this vicious circle, when no support is provided by the government. Because of this reality, “powerful and influential social groups construct images of the poor as profligate, lazy immoral and dangerous” (Winlow and Hall 30). This unfair portrayal leads to further exclusion, because it creates unfair stereotypes, it leads to rejection, and to fear.
This fear of the racial minorities has extreme consequences because it leads to unnecessarily high policing practices. Thus, poor neighborhoods where racial minorities live are more likely to be violent because of the economic problems of the community members. However, teenagers learn from an early age to fear and hate the police, because of the undue aggressiveness of which police officers are often guilty (Burale). The over-criminalization of racial minorities leads to further alienation, Burale argues. Youth may be singled-out because of their race, and they “can become alienated, lose self-esteem and feel that they have less hope or opportunity in this society” (Roots, quoted in Burale). This shows how social exclusion further leads to isolation, poverty and the repetition of the circumstances that keep young people away from good schools, academic performance, and their dream jobs.
While young people who manage to finish their education and apply for jobs in companies such as Twitter may have never been affected by poverty or social exclusion directly, the visibility of the poor racialized communities, and the widespread of the phenomenon of gang violence in ghettos reflects negatively upon them as well. The stereotyping images that people have of different groups of people are extremely powerful and affect to a great extent the way in which people are perceived from the first moment. Similarly to the way in which Asian Americans have the advantage of being perceived as industrious, African-Americans and Hispanics struggle every day against the stereotypes that they are associated with, and which are nowhere as advantageous.
Despite the reality of social exclusion and workplace discrimination, people today tend to believe that racial discrimination is no longer an actual problem. Overt racism is sanctioned by the society, and companies gravitate around values such as diversity and multiculturalism. For this reason, there is a tendency to ignore the grim reality of racism which continues to pervade the society. This type of racism manifests in lack of equal opportunities which starts at birth and continues to characterize racialized individuals throughout their lives. Thus, for example, as Gilmore shows, infant mortality rate is 2 times higher in African American and Aboriginal communities (Gilmore). This early inequality continues to impact individuals in school, and later on the labor market. Minority children are more likely to dropout from school, and to be killed in adolescence in an armed conflict. They are up to 10 times more likely to be incarcerated and 2 times more likely to be unemployed in adulthood (Gilmore).
This chain of discriminations is largely unnoticed by the society. For example Canada is considered one of the most equalitarian countries in the world and yet, the above statistics show that this is a fantasy. For this reason, Gilmore warns against the dangers of not acknowledging that the society has a race problem. This not only maintains the situation unchanged, but also increases the gravity of the problem, because this suggests that the social imbalance is part of normality. By openly discussing these problems, the members of the civil society can engage in dialogues and debates that may lead to finding efficient solutions for fighting against racism. In addition, organizations can get involved in cases such as that of the Twitter Company, and can sound the alarm when this form of blatant discrimination occurs openly and unsanctioned in a society which aims towards inclusion, multiculturalism and equality.
Therefore, as shown throughout this paper, the case of the Twitter company, where only 49 African-Americans were employed as of 2015 in a company which counts more than 2, 900 people, demonstrates that racism is still part of the business environment , despite the open commitment to diversity and multiculturalism. Furthermore, African-American women are even more underrepresented than African –American men, which shows that these employees are twice discriminated, based on gender and race. All these findings demonstrate that Twitter, as many other companies, are not fully committed to the values of diversity, and their resource managers continue to be influenced by racial stereotypes when they choose the candidates. This grim reality, deeply imbedded in historical racist behavior, and connected with the larger problem of social exclusion, can only be transformed to the better by encouraging the open recognition of the problem at the level of the society, by initiating an honest dialogue and by implementing strong affirmative action policies.
Burale, Idil. Summer of the gun: 10 years later, pt. II. Spacing Toronto. 2015. Web.
Galabuzi, Grace-Edward. Canada’s Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
Gilmore, Scott. “Canada’s Race Problem? It’s Even Worse than America’s”. MacLean’s. 2015. Web.
Gordon Nembhard, Jessica. “Enterprise, Social Exclusion and Sustainable Communities: The Role of Small Business”. Addressing Social and Economic Inequalities, Ed. Alan Southern. 20111. Routledge.
Neate, Rupert. “Twitter Employs Only 49 African Americans Despite Diversity Pledges”. The Guardian. 2015. Web.
Oxfam. “Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More”. Oxfam Issue Briefing. 2015. Web.
Todd, Douglas. “Most Chinese and South Asians in B.C. Report Discrimination”. The Vancouver Sun. 2014. Web.
Winlow, Simon and Hall, Steve. Rethinking Social Exclusion: The End of the Social? 2013.