Facebook has a problem with black people. That's according to former employee Mark Luckie, who recently made public an internal memo he wrote to the company about diversity problems within Facebook. Luckie worked for 14 months as a partnerships manager at the Menlo Park-based company before quitting in early November.
Luckie says he began noticing disparities in how black employees were treated soon after starting his new position.
"I was working very diligently, working with great partners and a lot of energy," Luckie says. "But I got a lot of pushback on a managerial level, and I quickly figured out that it wasn't just me."
Other black employees, Luckie says, started talking with him about their experiences. They’d tell him managers were unfairly questioning their decisions, and some complained they were dissuaded from joining affinity groups for black employees.
The number of black employees at Facebook hovers around 4 percent, up from 2 percent in 2016. Luckie says Facebook has gotten better at hiring black people, but the culture has prevented them from sticking around.
"What you don’t see is that retention is preventing those numbers from being even higher," he says.
All of this, Luckie believes, bleeds over into the Facebook user experience. Over the years, black Facebook users have complained they are being unfairly censored, and in some cases their pages have been deleted or suspended — for fighting back against racism on the site. Luckie believes Facebook doesn’t have enough people of color working to help solve this problem.
"There are a lot of people that are being hired for diversity roles but they're not being included in team goals," Luckie says. "Their work is being excluded from team launches and projects."
Facebook does not dispute Luckie’s experience, but in a statement, spokesman Anthony Harrison says the company is working to be more inclusive and increase the range of perspectives among those who build their products.
"We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be microbehaviors that add up," Harrison wrote. "We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company."
This isn't the first time Luckie has left a tech company over issues of diversity and a lack of inclusion. Before Facebook, Luckie worked for Twitter, but left after becoming disenchanted by the widespread underrepresentation of faces of color. As for the memo he wrote to Facebook, Luckie says, "It would be wrong for Facebook to not act on this. It shouldn’t bury its head in the sand."
Luckie quit earlier this month and has since moved to Atlanta. "I have to think about myself first, my own health and sanity."
Luckie says he knows he’ll likely never work in Silicon Valley again, and that's OK -- because he believes going public might just be the only way to change the culture.