What This Twitter VP Said Is Unacceptable

Photo: Courtesy Twitter.
Update: At 4:30pm, updated with comment from Twitter and clarification on Miley's departure.

We all know that Silicon Valley has a diversity problem. Starting in 2014, major players decided to be more transparent about the issue by releasing regular diversity reports on company makeup. But, saying you're working on a problem and having the proper mindset actually necessary to fix that problem are unfortunately two completely separate things, as one former Twitter manager explains.

Twitter engineering manager Leslie Miley, who is Black, decided to leave Twitter after three years and a string of diversity issues. Miley outlined his reasoning — and chronicled a handful of the experiences that led up to his decision — in a post on Medium.

"There were moments that caused me to question how and why a company whose product has been used as an agent of revolutionary social change did not reflect the diversity of thought, conversation, and people in its ranks," Miley writes. One of the most damning of these incidents was a conversation with Twitter's head of engineering:

A particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with 'diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar,' I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

"Diversity is important, but we can't lower the bar." Really? Studies have repeatedly shown that increased workplace diversity can increase company revenue by injecting fresh perspectives and experiences into the idea pool. And just because someone didn't graduate with a 4.0 GPA at Stanford doesn't mean that he or she is less skilled. We'd hazard that someone who had to work near full-time while pursuing an education could, in fact, be more passionate, a harder worker, and a better employee than his or her more privileged Ivy League counterpart. It's 2015 — doesn't everyone know by now that "different" does not mean "lesser"?

Twitter sent Re/code the following statement following Miley's blog post:

We’re committed to making substantive progress in making Twitter more diverse and inclusive. This commitment includes the expansion of our inclusion and diversity programs, diversity recruiting, employee development and resource group-led initiatives. Beyond just disclosing our workforce representation statistics, we have also publicly disclosed our representation goals for women and under-represented minorities for 2016, making us the largest tech company to put hard numbers around its diversity commitment.

Miley writes that in his absence, Twitter now has no "managers, directors, or VPs of color in engineering or product management." CEO Jack Dorsey has reaffirmed the company's commitment to diversity, and Miley is hopeful that Dorsey can make positive changes there. Unfortunately, that change can't happen until Twitter's leaders all share this mindset.

This article was originally published at 1:20 PM.

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