Facebook has a “black people problem,” according to former employee Mark S. Luckie.
In a 2,500 word Facebook post shared on Tuesday, Luckie said the social network’s unacceptable work environment failed many black employees like him. Luckie said that he’s “heard far too many stories” of managers calling black workers “hostile” or “aggressive” for “simply sharing their thoughts in a manner not dissimilar from their non-Black team members.” Other employees were told by managers to not participate in “black stuff,” according to Luckie, without providing specific examples of what that means.
Most glaringly, Luckie said, “too many black employees can recount stories of being aggressively accosted by campus security.” Luckie added he routinely felt racial animosity walking around company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, where two-to-three times a day a co-worker would “look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket” until he walked by.
Luckie’s post was initially sent as a memo to Facebook management and staff before he left the company earlier this month. He said his job as a strategic partner manager required him a “great deal of sacrifice” — including cutting him off from his ex-fiancé — but he did it because he strongly believed in Facebook’s “ability to positively impact the world.”
“To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic,” he wrote.
Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison told TheWrap the company has been “working diligently” for several years “to increase the range of perspective among those who build our products and serve the people who use them throughout the world.”
Harrison added: “The growth in representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed. We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company.”
Luckie said that he’s now focused on “rebuilding” his life and diving into a sci-fi podcast that he hosts. Luckie has also offered several recommendations for Facebook on how to better serve its minority employees, including creating an “internal system for employees to anonymously report microaggressions.”
Earlier this year, Facebook said it still faces “challenges” in recruiting black and Latino employees. Black employees increased from 2 percent to 4 percent of the company’s overall workforce last year, according to Facebook’s annual diversity report. By comparison, black Americans make up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census data.
Facebook, despite many of its workers being vocally against racism, still has a long way to go in creating a suitable work environment for black employees, according to Luckie. “In some buildings, there are more ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters than there are actual black people.”