How diverse is Twitter? Jesse Jackson wants to know


The ongoing struggle for diversity in the tech world is getting some increasingly big names speaking out for a better view of those being employed in Silicon Valley.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is now calling on micro-blogging site Twitter to release its gender and ethnic demographics regarding its thousands of employees. It is the latest pressure on a top tech company to reveal the breakdown of its labor force.

A number of companies, including Facebook and Google, had pushed back hard against efforts to reveal their workforce's ethnic and gender make-up. Many observers believe this is largely due to the overwhelming majority of white males among tech jobs. Both companies released their diversity information after efforts from Jackson proved fruitful.

Jackson and his PUSH Coalition as well as the civil rights group say that they are using the micro-blogging site to bombard Twitter with calls for the San Francisco-based company to give the public demographics of its workers and to hold a forum that would enable Twitter to tell the public how it plans on increasing diversity within its walls.

Jackson was on Twitter during the Netroots Nation annual political conference in Detroit, extolling activists to urge people to "tweet out" to Twitter to get public information on their ethnic and gender diversity. The coalition is also urging one million members to sign an online petition that would add more voices to the campaign.

"We come not to disrupt but to fulfill the promise of social media," Jackson said in an interview this week.

Jackson has long called on tech companies to hire a more diverse workforce, which presently is a majority of white and Asian men. Despite the success he has had with other companies, Twitter has remained largely defiant of the pressure.

A Twitter spokesman earlier this week said the company had nothing to announce "at this time."

"It is ironic that Twitter is still resisting releasing this information," Jackson said. "We are over-indexed on Twitter as users, and we are under-indexed as employees."

But considering Twitter is a publicly traded company, the likelihood of it remaining silent on releasing its diversity demographics seems unlikely. With public pressure continuing to rain down on Twitter, and with the other large Silicon Valley companies having released their own diversity breakdown, Jackson's efforts are likely to succeed, but it may take some more time and pressure.

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