Black Twitter Employees Share Concerns About Future Work Culture After Elon Musk Terminates Black Employee Resource Group
Last Friday, new Twitter owner Elon Musk announced he was laying off half of the company’s 7,500 employees—9% of whom are Black.
An outlet spoke with two Black employees, referred to as Cam and Bailey (to protect their identities), about their thoughts on the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the social media site.
According to the pair, employees were initially excited about the Tesla founder taking over the company, but that quickly changed.
“From afar, we were thinking—this could mean great improvements from an engineering and product perspective because he’s known in the industry as having skills in that arena. But the closer we got to him, the more we realized that his personal ideologies are so far away from ours,” the pair said in an interview.
Bailey predicted that under Musk, Twitter would be a less inclusive company. Yahoo News reported that Musk had terminated Blackbird, the Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black employees at Twitter, founded by Shavone Charles. Musk also got rid of the Women’s ERG at Twitter.
The new guy at Twitter dissolved all ERGs. No more Twitter Women or Blackbirds. This is so unbelievably wild to watch.
— isa watson (@isadwatson) November 4, 2022
Bailey took the elimination of the ERGs as a clear indication of a shift in the company, and it completely changed how minority and female employees view the company.
“I was a Twitter user before I was an employee,” Cam told Essence, adding that work culture has taken a dark turn.
“At the time, the work felt important.”
If Musk’s other company Tesla is any indication of Twitter’s future, there may be an uptick in racial discrimination lawsuits in the company’s future. Earlier this year, a judge gave a former Tesla employee $15 million in damages over racial abuse.
Additionally, in a class-action lawsuit against Tesla filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in February, three former plant workers recalled instances where Black workers were called the N-word on the assembly line, forced to work in a segregated area of the factory called “the plantation,” and even being terminated after being called “monkeys” by a manager. The state of California also threatened to sue the e-car giant.
Last year, Melvin Berry was awarded more than $1 million after the company failed to stop his supervisors from calling him the N-word. Berry also claimed when he confronted a supervisor about his frequent use of the N-word, he was forced to work longer hours with heavier equipment. A federal court also ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to Owen Diaz, a former Black employee who accused the automaker of ignoring racial abuse he faced while working there.
Many, like Cam and Bailey, believe that under Musk’s leadership, Black Twitter will die, the platform will become racist and segregated, and safeguards protecting people against hate speech will be weakened.
“Not all ideas should have a platform because not all ideas are created equal. Some ideas are more fleshed out and thoughtful than others. Some ideas have more logic than others. Some ideas have more research than others. And those are the ideas that rose to the surface in the prior regime,” Bailey said.