After initial reports of Facebook turning down Black applicants for positions because they weren’t a “culture fit,” more people have filed complaints alleging similar experiences.
A Washington Post article published Tuesday said three Black applicants were rejected from jobs at Facebook despite having met all the qualifications.
The three applicants filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that investigates workplace discrimination.
“There’s no doubt you can do the job, but we’re really looking for a culture fit,” one hiring manager told one of the three candidates, according to The Post.
A Facebook operations manager, Oscar Veneszee Jr., told the paper he believes several qualified applicants he referred to jobs at the company were rejected because they weren’t a “culture fit.”
“When I was interviewing at Facebook, the thing I was told constantly was that I needed to be a culture fit, and when I tried to recruit people, I knew I needed [to] find people who were a culture fit,” he told The Post. “But unfortunately not many people I knew could pass that challenge because the culture here does not reflect the culture of Black people.”
The EEOC began investigating Facebook last summer over bias allegations, The Post added.
Critics have criticized workplaces pursuing the idea of a “culture fit” in their hiring practices because, they argue, it creates an inclination to hire white workers while sidelining people of color.
In a 2018 article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional membership association in Alexandria, Virginia, one HR expert said “culture fit” is subjective and indicates the hiring decision is largely not based “on the candidate’s ability to deliver results.”
A Facebook spokesperson, when reached for comment, gave the following statement.
“We’ve added diversity and inclusion goals to senior leaders’ performance reviews. We take seriously allegations of discrimination and have robust policies and processes in place for employees to report concerns, including concerns about microaggressions and policy violations,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also said the company did not take “culture fit” into account when hiring for jobs.
Rhett Lindsey, a former recruiter with Facebook, told The Post, “There is no culture fit check mark on an application form, but at Facebook it is like this invisible cloud that hangs over candidates of color.”
Achieving global gender parity will take an extra 36 years because of the coronavirus pandemic, a World Economic Forum (WEF) report said.
Previously, the WEF estimated that the gender pay gap could take around 100 years to close. It’s now increased its prediction to nearly 136 years.
“Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed,” the report said.
The WEF calculated worldwide gender parity through economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and education across 156 countries.
It will take around 146 years to attain gender equality in politics, and 268 years for men and women to get the same salary for similar work, the report said. It added that the data doesn’t yet fully reflect the impact of the pandemic, which could extend the gaps further.
Gender parity has improved in the education sector, taking another 14 years to completely close, and the gap in health between men and women will take a similar amount of time.
The WEF report cited the International Labour Organization (ILO) that said 5% of all employed women lost their jobs during the pandemic, compared with 3.9% of employed men. There was also a decline in hiring women into senior positions, according to LinkedIn data.
“There is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing only 27% of all manager positions,” the report said.
Sectors such as cloud computing, engineering, data and AI are more likely to have gender gaps as the uptake of women for these kinds of jobs is fairly low, the WEF added.
WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi wrote in the report: “The hardest-hit sectors by lockdowns and rapid digitalization are those where women are more frequently employed.”
“Combined with the additional pressures of providing care in the home, the crisis has halted progress toward gender parity in several economies and industries,” she said.
Zahidi added that she hoped the report would be a “call to action” for countries to focus on gender equality in the post-pandemic recovery.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average weekly earnings for men who were older than 16 and working full-time was $408 compared to $251 for women – that’s 61.5% of a man’s weekly earnings. This has increased to 81.7% in the third quarter of 2020.
Insider reported in March that the gender wage gap in the US varies widely by state, city and race, with Black and Hispanic women facing the largest pay gap in comparison to non-Hispanic white men’s earnings.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is investigating hiring practices at SpaceX after a job applicant said he was discriminated against because of his citizenship status.
Elon Musk’s aerospace company repeatedly refused to comply with a DoJ subpoena asking for documentation related to its hiring procedures, saying in February authorities have given only “the flimsiest of justifications.”
But a judge on Monday recommended that SpaceX comply with the subpoena, saying that the company did not produce sufficient evidence to dismiss the DoJ’s case.
A complaint from a SpaceX job applicant started the investigation
The Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER), a division of the DoJ, began its investigations in June 2020 after job applicant Fabian Hutter complained of status-based discrimination.
Hutter was interviewed for the position of technology strategy associate at SpaceX’s internet project Starlink in March. His resume said he held dual citizenship in Austria and Canada, and is a lawful permanent US resident.
Under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, non-US citizens can work for SpaceX if they have a green card, CNBC reported.
In a court filing, SpaceX called the case “facially nonsensical.”
SpaceX said it knew about Hutter’s citizenship before offering him the interview because it was on his resume. The interviewer was “unimpressed” by Hutter’s responses to questions, SpaceX said, and it ultimately decided not to hire anyone for the role.
The DoJ launched its investigation in June
IER told SpaceX in June that it had opened an investigation into both Hutter’s complaint and whether the company engaged in any broader pattern or practice of discrimination.
As part of its investigation, IER requested documentation from SpaceX related to its hiring processes. This included all Form I-9 data collected by the company since June 2019 and copies of any supporting documentation, such as copies of employees’ passports, driver’s licenses, or Social Security cards.
As part of a Form I-9, which is filled in when a new hire starts, the employee has to identify their citizenship status. The employer must certify that they viewed original documentation proving this.
This is “highly relevant” to the IER investigation, the DoJ’s Sandoval wrote, because the documents may show whether SpaceX was “engaging in a pattern of not hiring [non-US citizens] due to their citizenship status.”
SpaceX refused to comply with a subpoena
After IER gave it multiple extensions, SpaceX finally shared the Form I-9 documents in August, but refused to produce supporting documentation, the DoJ’s filing said. SpaceX said this would be “unduly burdensome” and would involve submitting documents from more than 3,500 employees “from barista to rocket scientist.”
After SpaceX repeatedly refused to supply the supporting evidence, IER obtained a subpoena, asking SpaceX to send the relevant documents by October 22. SpaceX still refused to send the documents, even after IER offered a further deadline extension, per the filing.
The authorities denied SpaceX’s request in December. The authorities then ordered SpaceX to comply with the subpoena within 14 days, and authorized IER to seek enforcement in district court if SpaceX did not comply.
After SpaceX still refused to send the information, IER asked a California district court to require SpaceX to comply.
SpaceX asked the court to block the subpoena. It said it had already spent more than 1,000 hours complying with IER’s requests and submitted “thousands of pages” of documents. It said IER had given only “the flimsiest of justifications,” calling it “the very definition of government overreach.”
Judge says SpaceX should comply
In a court filing on March 29, Magistrate Judge Michael Wilner recommended that the district judge force SpaceX to comply with the subpoena.
Wilner said that the subpoena was relevant and enforceable, and that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it was overbroad or presented an undue burden to SpaceX.
Though the I-9 attachment would not be relevant to the IER’s investigation into whether SpaceX discriminates during its hiring practices, the documentation could help the IER’s investigation into potential overdocumentation violations, the judge said.
Wilner’s recommendation will be sent to a federal district judge, who will deliver a ruling, CNBC reported.
Insider has contacted SpaceX and IER for comment.
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A former top lobbyist for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly accused a high-ranking executive and another senior manager of engaging in sexual discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against women in its Washington D.C. office, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.
The suit, filed in federal court by in-house lobbyist Sonya Elling, alleges that a Lilly senior vice-president, Leigh Ann Pusey, repeatedly demeaned Elling and other women, and eventually forced Elling to resign. Elling’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for lost pay and alleged reputational and emotional harm.
Pusey, senior vice-president of corporate affairs and communications, was one of CEO Dave Ricks’s first appointments when he took the role in 2017.
Eli Lilly is the only named defendant in the suit. Pusey did not respond to requests for comment.
A Lilly spokeswoman denied the allegations in the suit.
“Lilly is committed to fostering and promoting a culture of diversity and respect, and a work environment free of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any kind,” the spokeswoman said. “We hold all employees accountable to our core values and believe our executives carry an even higher burden in ensuring those values are upheld.”
Reuters reported earlier this month that a former Lilly human resources manager alleged she had been forced out of her job because she repeatedly raised concerns with executives about manufacturing problems at a New Jersey factory. Lilly told Reuters it has rigorous quality assurance programs in place and welcomes employee feedback.
Elling had worked as an in-house lobbyist for Lilly since 2003, rising to become a senior director in 2005.
Pusey, named to her post in the wake of former president Donald Trump’s election, has worked for several Republican leaders and organizations including the Republican National Committee, according to her online Lilly executive bio.
The suit alleges that Elling and other women were subjected to sexist comments by Pusey and another senior manager, including that they were “nasty,” “b*****s,” “disruptive,” “aggressive,” and “rude.” Pusey regularly mocked Elling’s appearance and that of other women while noticeably treating male employees more favorably, the suit states.
In 2018, according to the suit, another woman lobbyist at Lilly filed an internal complaint against Pusey, alleging that she had created a hostile workplace and made several offensive comments about Elling and others. That lobbyist is not named in the lawsuit.
In May of that year, a Lilly human resources investigator interviewed Elling about the other lobbyist’s complaint, which Elling corroborated, the suit said. Ultimately the investigator found the complaint to have merit, according to the suit.
Exec engaged in “sexual self-groping” during meetings, lawsuit says
After that, the lawsuit said, Pusey began to exclude Elling and others who participated in the complaint investigation from briefings of senior leaders.
In 2019, Pusey hired an executive, Democrat Shawn O’Neail, to directly supervise Elling and other lobbyists, the suit states. O’Neail engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the office, including “sexual self-groping,” during meetings with Elling in her office, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleges that O’Neail had a history of misogynist and racist conduct at pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG, where he had previously worked, and that he once used the N-word to refer to a Black executive at a rival drug company. The company, Pfizer, declined to comment.
O’Neail, who was not named as a defendant in the suit, did not respond to requests for comment. Novartis declined to comment.
O’Neail was brought in to “clean house” by terminating Elling and another employee, the lawsuit said. According to the suit, O’Neail falsely accused Elling of making disparaging statements about Lilly to congressional staff. He eventually put Elling on a job performance improvement plan, according to the suit.
On December 1, 2019, Elling sent a resignation email to top executives, saying she was forced into the decision due to Pusey and O’Neail’s discrimination and retaliation against her, the suit said.
Throughout my K-12 public school education, the term “Asian American” appeared only once: during my 11th grade history class when covering the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I squirmed uncomfortably in my chair as my classmates began to shift their gaze over to me, the only student of East Asian descent, as our teacher lectured about the aftermath of such a catastrophic event – the US government’s edict that put 112,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps. Although I was a New York-born Korean American, my classmates could not tell the difference, and I was not spared from stares riddled with judgment.
I wanted to be anything other than Asian
Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, I was made painfully aware of the fact that I was “non-white.” Although I was never bullied outright because of my race, the accumulation of microaggressive incidents drove home the message that I did not belong. From a young age, I realized that no matter how unique and different my lived experiences were, they would always be compared to the very limited Asian history to which my peers and acquaintances had access.
My “best friends” in middle school would be genuinely shocked when they saw the school’s only other female student of East Asian descent and mistake her for me – miraculously ‘healed’ from my disability. Due to my cerebral palsy, I’d usually use my wheelchair in school or, other times, walk with a noticeable limp and abnormal gait. So, the fact that they could not distinguish me from the other girl doubled the insult of the situation.
Soon after, I started to wear thick, dark eyeliner in an attempt to make my eyes look bigger and rid them of their slants. I tried to deceive people into thinking “Kim” was my middle name, and religiously suntanned my skin. I wanted so badly to erase my Asian heritage and appear more European. Although I was a first-generation Korean-American, such a distinction made no difference to my peers. No matter how much I tried to minimize my Asianness and assimilate into the Western culture, the “Asian” in “Asian American” would always weigh significantly more than “American.” It wasn’t “whiteness” I was striving for, but literally anything other than Asianness.
Those incidents cut deeper than the straightforward bullying I would receive because of my physical disability. I understood the concept of ableism before realizing that the microaggressions against my Asianness were, indeed, racism.
It was ingrained in me from a very young age that I ought to respect my elders (even when they were wrong), keep my head down, and work hard to fit in. To my family, the model minority “myth” was anything but a myth; it was something they’ve striven to embody. This mentality has made my father continuously tolerant of strangers saying “ching chong ting tong,” treating him like an imbecile, and mocking his “broken” English throughout his 30 years living in this country.
It was not until freshman orientation in college, after receiving an invitation to the students of color reception, that I realized that I was considered a “person of color”. I had spent the years prior feeling alone in being one of the few, if not the only, non-caucasian student in class. So seeing that invitation and knowing that such an affinity group existed immediately gave me a sense of belonging, perhaps for the first time in my life. Once I spotted other Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) students at the event, I relaxed, assured that my presence was warranted.
Violence against Asian Americans continues
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Asian immigrants were subjected to villainization and horrendous racial violence. This instigated the creation of the “Asian American” identity during a time when racial justice was considered a black-and-white issue. Although Asian countries were often in conflict with each other, those who immigrated to America started to put their differences aside and stood together in solidarity. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the term “Asian American” was officially coined by student activists and helped shape decades of advocacy. Yet, none of this was included in my high school US history curriculum.
To most Americans, the recent uptick of violent hate crimes against Asian Americans comes as a surprise. Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States, there has been an increase in violence stemming from anti-Asian bigotry. Recently, such crimes have been targeted at the elderly in the AAPI community. It wasn’t until celebrities and influencers mobilized the #StopAsianHate social media campaign that mainstream news outlets started to cover these incidents more in-depth.
The ‘model minority’ myth
There is a deeply-rooted tradition in this country that sees everyone in the AAPI community as monolithic. All Asian Americans are seen as the ‘model minority’ – successful, hard-working, and largely wealthy. However, many communities in the Asian diaspora are subjected to extreme poverty levels in America, like the Nepalese, Micronesian, and Burmese.
As a former New York Magazine writer arrogantly demonstrated in a 2017 piece, the old, haggard trope of Asian Americans goes like this:
“Today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?”
Although the passage is problematic on many levels, the most dangerous is its perpetual message of “hard work” and “overcoming hardships” which is central to the model minority myth. This stereotype harms the well-being and mental health of Asian Americans, who in addition to the hate crimes of the past year, faced prolonged unemployment. In the last three months of 2020, nearly half of Asian Americans who’ve lost jobs that year, stayed unemployed for 27 weeks or more – far longer than had white, Black, or Latinx Americans. And yet, Asian American job losses have gone unnoticed.
Not only does the myth diminish the real struggles that the AAPI community has continuously faced, it also systematically pits Asians against other minority racial groups, creating unnecessary tension and hatred.
However, no matter how much “whitening” there is of Asian Americans, we will never have the same rights and privileges as white Americans. Despite being born on American soil and living here all my life, I still get asked, to this day, “where are you really from?”
To the gaze of America, we will forever be “foreigners.”
It is not until the vastly different ethnicities and cultures in the Asian diaspora become recognized and accepted in this country that such racism will truly stop, and we will finally become “full Americans” in our own right.
When we are approximated to white Americans, our Asian American identities – full of rich history and unique practices – are erased and our struggles are illegimatized. It also intensifies the colorism among Asian Americans, pitting fair-skinned Asians against those with darker complexions, and ultimately dismantling the cohesive and diverse Asian American collective.
Asian Americans are a vastly diverse group of people, comprising dozens of nationalities, ethnicities, and religions, as well as different genders, (dis)abilities, education levels, and socioeconomic statuses. Not recognizing such diversity and erasing our identities is yet another form white supremacy, with too high a price tag.
Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut responded on Friday to allegations of gender discrimination and harassment at the company, telling employees in an email that “we have work to do” on pay equity and inclusion.
Chestnut’s email, which was seen by Insider, appeared to contradict internal messaging the company had sent just a day earlier.
He also said an independent pay equity study “found that gender and race/ethnicity are not statistically significant indicators of differences in pay, and that differences in pay can be attributed to those factors we’ve established within our compensation system that are fair and reasonable.”
But Chestnut’s email on Friday appeared to show the issues are more extensive than White’s initial email acknowledged.
Both messages came in response to the resignation of principal software engineer Kelly Ellis, who accused the company of “sexism and bullying” and gender pay discrimination when she quit on Wednesday.
“The fact of the matter is that it has led to some difficult conversations and brought up some serious issues, and I want to be clear about this: I don’t want any of our employees to have a negative experience working here, and I want to know about it when it happens so we can find the problems and fix them,” Chestnut said.
“I’m also hearing that some of you have already raised concerns or pointed out problems you’re experiencing, and we haven’t made enough progress in response,” he added.
“Because a sensitive situation was shared on social media, we felt it was important to talk directly with employees to make sure they know Mailchimp does not tolerate any type of mistreatment, including discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” a Mailchimp spokesperson told Insider in a statement. “We want to combine what is an important conversation with action steps.”
However, while Chestnut’s email encouraged employees to offer feedback through various channels, it offered no concrete steps beyond promising “regular updates.”
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Read the full email Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut sent to employees:
Subject: Hearing your concerns
Hi everyone, I’m following up on Robin’s email from yesterday because I know this has been hard for many of you, and I want you to know that I’m listening. I won’t share the confidential details or get into a back and forth about the specific situation that came up this week, but the fact of the matter is that it has led to some difficult conversations and brought up some serious issues, and I want to be clear about this: I don’t want any of our employees to have a negative experience working here, and I want to know about it when it happens so we can find the problems and fix them.
It has always been so important to Dan and me that Mailchimp is a company where all employees feel included, respected, and safe-a place where people can do their best, most creative work. Employees experiencing anything less is unacceptable to me and all of our leaders.
I’m hearing loud and clear that we have work to do, including needing greater transparency around pay equity and an intentional focus on inclusion. I want to address these issues head-on, and I know we’ll be stronger for it. I’m asking our leadership team to prioritize these issues and work with me to fix them. What we do needs to match what we say.
I would really appreciate your candid feedback to help us get there. I’m also hearing that some of you have already raised concerns or pointed out problems you’re experiencing, and we haven’t made enough progress in response. I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and trust that we’ll make the right adjustments. Just as bullying, harassment, and discrimination won’t be tolerated-neither will retaliation or intimidation for speaking up.
I’m having office hours every day next week, and I’ve asked the entire executive team to hold office hours too. You can sign up here [LINK]. You’re also welcome to email me directly or message me on Slack. We’ve also heard that some of you would rather submit your feedback anonymously. That’s completely understandable, and we’re working on a new way to do that that guarantees confidentiality-will follow up with details next week.
We’re going to listen hard and change fast, responding to your feedback and taking action to invest in our culture and rebuild trust. You can expect regular updates on this. We know this will require work and focus beyond the next few weeks. We’re in it for the long haul. I hope you are too.
One final note: for many of us, the last few years have been a crash course in understanding how insidious forces like racism and sexism can show up in the workplace. I know I’ve learned a great deal, and with Cris Gaskin’s help, we’ve been intentional about better educating ELT to recognize these forces so we can address them. We’re still learning, but I feel better equipped to make the changes we need going forward.
Thank you all for your commitment to making Mailchimp a great place to work. I’m grateful for you.