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Twitter criticised for hiring white man as new head of diversity

Today Twitter announced Jeffrey Siminoff, former director of worldwide inclusion & diversity at Apple, as their new head of diversity.

While his work with Apple is notable, the most prominent aspect of Twitter's new hire is that Siminoff is a white man in a company run predominantly by white men; an issue the company has been previously criticised for, and promised to change.

According to publicly released numbers, only three per cent of Twitter’s employees are black or Latino. A person of colour has yet to be hired in an executive role.

The irony is that the hire comes four months after Twitter announced its commitment to diversity, pledging to increase women and underrepresented minorities in leadership roles by 25 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. In their diversity press release, Twitter claimed: “We want the makeup of our company to reflect the vast range of people who use Twitter”.

While diversity is a problem in many companies, Twitter is especially scrutinised in this issue considering their huge minority audience; an estimated 28 per cent of online African-Americans and Hispanics use the platform, according to the Pew Research Center.

By hiring a white man as their head of diversity, many claim all Twitter has done is further prove their apparent lack of diversity.

Mark S. Lucie, former manager of journalism and news at Twitter, argued that “getting people of color and women in the boardroom to have these discussions and perhaps offer alternative viewpoints could save the company from having to confront these issues in the first place”.

To further the irony of the situation, Siminoff is replacing a woman, Janet Van Huysse. Mark S. Lucie notes Van Huysse’s “ongoing attempts to effect change” while she filled the role, and questioned Siminoff’s ability to champion diversity after such a blow to Twitter’s diversity agenda, saying “the damage has already been done”.

Featured by The Drum