Twitter CEO Takes Questions and Criticism at Black Engineers’ Event

Twitter CEO takes part in a fireside chat at the NBSE after his company has been heavily scrutinized for lack of diversity

Jack_Dorsey
Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey; Image: Twitter

The digital divide may have narrowed a bit last week when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took the stage for an interview at the National Society of Black Engineer’s 42nd Annual Convention in Boston.

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Dorsey was interviewed by Laura W. Powers the co-founder of CODE2040 in front of scores of black engineering students and professionals. The interview was also live streamed for the Internet audience.

During the interview, Dorsey said that he was committed to making Twitter a more diverse and inclusive company in which to work.

“The only way we are going to be creative is to have perspective from all over,” said Dorsey.

He also spoke of the need for empathy. “The best way to have empathy for someone is to have them represented… Empathy is not just about listening; it’s about understanding and having action behind that understanding,” he said.

Dorsey also said that Twitter would begin rolling out unconscious bias training to all its employees and interns.

The NSBE invited Twitter users to submit questions during the interview by using the hashtag #NSBEAskJack.

Questions from the Twitterverse ranged from those curious as to how Twitter started the use of hashtags to more pointed questions about diversity and race relations.

“If you take #BlackLivesMatter seriously then [sic] BW saying they’re experiencing daily violence/harassment #onhere should = change,” tweeted @karaincontrast to #NSBEAskJack.

Other quotes from Dorsey that particularly resonated with the Twitter audience based on retweets were:

“Passion can’t be taught—all the skills can be taught.”

“We are looking for people with passion and purpose.”

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is to do whatever it takes to make it work.”

“Build for who you are and what you want to see in the world.”

“Technology gives you the choice to stay small and still have global impact.”

Twitter was one of the Silicon Valley companies under fire last year for a lack of diversity in its workforce. In 2014, blacks accounted for 2% of its workforce, and Hispanics, 6%.

In December of last year, the company stoked further derision when it announced that it had hired Jeffrey Siminoff, a white male, as its new vice president of diversity and inclusion.

Anecdotally, however, it seemed as though the reaction by the audience to Dorsey’s attendance at the NSBE event was favorable.

“After listening to @jack speak at #NSBE42’s @NSBEAskJack session today, my passion for #Twitter has been refueled,” tweeted @dr_zumba.