In our Q2 Report, we explored the company’s response to the global COVID pandemic. This quarter, we take a closer look at the impact of #BlackLivesMatter for Tweeps in the US and around the world.
Just when 2020 had done the most — it did more. It’s been a long overdue summer of racial reckoning in the United States and around the world, as advocates and allies raise their voices and demand an end to systemic racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and anti-Blackness.
#BlackLivesMatter is a movement that transcends political parties or nation-states; it's grounded in a struggle for fundamental human rights — and the hashtag first appeared in 2013 right on Twitter. So not only does that mean it hits especially close to home for all of us at Twitter, but also, as a Black woman raising three Black children, this work is deeply personal.
The road to racial equality is long, but I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken to lay the foundation for us to continue to drive progress. While this blog post is mostly focused on the urgent call for change within the Black community in the US, we know that this echoes throughout our work with underrepresented groups around the world.
Let’s start with representation within our US workforce*:
We’ve set an ambitious goal for 2025 of having at least 25% of our overall US workforce be underrepresented minorities — at least 10% of which will be Black Tweeps. These numbers aren’t nearly big enough, especially in technical and leadership roles, but they do show that Twitter strives to be a leader of our industry when it comes to representation of Black employees. Check out our latest workforce representation data in our Inclusion & Diversity Report.
So once Tweeps walk through our (now virtual) doors, what do we do to make sure they #LoveWhereYouWork? Short answer: A lot…
First, we want every Tweep regardless of location or job to understand their role in creating a culture where everyone is empowered to bring their full authentic selves to work, experience belonging, and do the best work of their career. It’s one of the first messages we deliver to all new Tweeps on Day One in #FlightSchool, our new hire orientation. This vision takes ongoing work, so we also empower Tweeps with courses like “Healthy Conversations” (how to respectfully navigate tough topics in the workplace), “Words Matter” (how to spot and interrupt microaggressions), and “Allyship @ Twitter” (how to be an ally to underrepresented people). We recently made these courses mandatory for all Tweeps around the world to ensure everyone is operating with the same understanding of what is expected from them.
Our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are the lifeblood of inclusion efforts at Twitter and Blackbirds is one of our oldest, largest, and most well known. Founded in 2012, Blackbirds membership spans across our global offices. In the past year alone, membership has grown by more than 100% — a testament to the strength of our Blackbirds community and their allies. I want to take a moment to personally acknowledge the global leadership team of Blackbirds whose passionate commitment to this work makes us all better. Thank you, Keyaira Lock, Jade Williams, Marvin Williams, Sioban Massiah, Ola Idowu, Sheldon Louis, and Royce Haynes.
These Tweeps — and all our BRG chairs around the world — empower our next generation of leaders, foster a culture of inclusivity and belonging, and give back to the greater community. In addition to performing their core job function, they navigate the complexities, nuances, and emotional labor of sometimes being the only person who looks, loves, worships, or has lived like them. They do this work to empower our next generation of leaders, so that one day, they will no longer be the only. This work is essential to Twitter’s success — it is not a “side hustle” or “volunteer activity.” That’s why we recently introduced a new compensation program to formally recognize the global leadership team of all of our BRGs.
Despite longstanding ongoing investments in this work, like many of you, this summer we were called to do even more.
First, we hosted a series of #FlockTalks on racial justice and anti-Blackness in the US, EMEA, and JAPAC. #FlockTalks are Tweep-only sessions, designed to hold space for those who’d like to come together in community to share how they're feeling with one another. We believe there’s a direct correlation between conversations like this, the health of our workplace, and the health of our service.
The #FlockTalks revealed that many of our Tweeps were struggling with emotions highly associated with trauma — anger, anxiety, sadness, depression, and numbness. So we created #TakeCare, a one-hour, virtual discussion featuring therapists and wellness experts specializing in racism and trauma, providing tools and guidance to help Tweeps unpack and process everything happening in the world. We also expanded our mental health benefits to increase ongoing access to Black therapists with expertise in anti-Blackness, systemic racism, and race-related trauma.
Racism impacts communities around the world. That’s why nearly all of our global BRGs delivered programs that empowered Tweeps to reflect on, and take a deeper look at anti-Blackness across their respective communities:
All summer, we demonstrated our solidarity and allyship on @TwitterTogether, and across other Twitter owned and operated accounts. We proudly joined the push for #PoliceReformNow, #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor, and our leadership and policy teams have been meeting with advocates and elected officials to help drive progress. We made sure Black mental health resources were front and center for anyone who needed them in this curated Moment. We published “How to be an ally right now: #BlackLivesMatter,” shared it with the world in a thread and blog, and helped everyone Diversify Your Feed.
Last week, the verdict in Breonna Taylor's case once again showed us how much work we have to do. The system isn't broken, it's functioning exactly as it was intended to. And for those wanting to practice allyship, wanting to dismantle systems of oppression and change the status quo, we launched a new series of workshops for Tweeps with new content to reflect current events based on our four principles of allyship: Learn, Ask, Show Up, and Speak Up. Learn about approach in the Twitter Blog, “Allyship Right Now.”
We also launched #TwitterTogetherTalks, a new series exploring racial equity, inclusion, and diversity. We started with best-selling author and scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) for a conversation with Tweeps about dismantling systemic racism and how to be an antiracist. Next up was award-winning writer, director, and advocate Janet Mock (@janetmock) to explore the intersectionality of movements and the importance of #BlackTransLivesMatter. Most recently, we hosted Anthony Ray Hinton (@eji_org) in conversation with @jack to explore racial injustice and brutality in policing and the impact of mass incarceration on Black communities.
A common theme we heard was that between the pandemic and a summer of racial reckoning, Tweeps were tired. So we introduced a day of global rest for the company. It was so popular, we introduced four more. We also led our industry by announcing that Juneteenth would be a US holiday forevermore. For Tweeps outside the US, we identified regional emancipation dates to ensure everyone can observe this important day of reflection.
On Juneteenth, we elevated Black voices and their Tweets to educate and celebrate Black joy. Across the nation, our Community and Culture team demanded racial equity and justice with powerful statements, reflected on billboards throughout cities at the center of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Our Social team partnered with Blackbirds to dedicate an entire day to a never-ending parade of creativity and a true love for life with #BlackJoy. We also commemorated with a @Twitter Voice Tweet from Opal Tometi (co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter), published a @TwitterTogether thread educating on what Juneteenth represents, and commissioned Black artists to update headers of Twitter owned and operated accounts.
We also deepened our investments in the advocacy organizations on the front lines driving change, and empowered Tweeps to do the same by lifting our matching gifts cap. We made a $250,000 grant split evenly between the Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org) and the National Association of Black Journalists (@NABJ). We dedicated #AdsForGood grants for nonprofit organizations to amplify #BlackLivesMatter voices on Twitter. As we did with COVID-19, we are offering free premium ad services for credible resources and voices from the movement on Twitter, such as the Spotlight and Promoted sections in the Trends/Explore tab and First View on the Home timeline for all users to see, just for example. In 2021, we’re introducing a more globally inclusive approach to our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.
One of the most powerful things we can do is promote healthy conversation on our service. We’ll continue to iterate on our policies and roll out new product features to do this. This is a part of ongoing work to expand our hateful conduct policy that started in 2018. As a part of this work, we quickly realized we don’t have all the answers, which is why we have developed a global working group of outside experts to help us think about how we should address dehumanizing speech around more complex categories like race, ethnicity, and national origin. This group will help us understand the nuances, important regional and historical context, and ultimately help us answer questions like how we address power and privilege on the service.
Most importantly, we’ll continue to serve the public conversation and fight for racial justice and inclusion — and we won’t stop #UntilWeAllBelong.
Did someone say … cookies?