Former Twitter Engineer Sounds Off About Its Lack of Diversity

Just in time, I can "like" his post on Twitter.

Meet Leslie Miley.

He’s a man with quite a salty resume, including positions at Walmart (eCom), Apple, Google and most recently, Twitter. In fact, he held the distinction of being the only black engineer in Twitter leadership.

Let that sink in a moment — the only black engineer at Twitter. And now, that’s past tense. 

This week in a Medium post (under the nom-de-plume @Shaft… awesome and “damn right”), Miley went editorial, sharing his thoughts on the place he once called ‘work.’ Remember the story we shared about Twitter releasing 8 percent of its workforce last month? The writing may have been on the wall, so Miley was already packing his bags.

“Twitter’s issues with growth and engagement and the issues with internal diversity are somewhat related,” Miley wrote. “The over-reliance on a limited number of schools and workplaces for talent has caused a type of group think to dominate. Any change would be approved by people who all think alike. There was very little diversity in thought and almost no diversity in action.”

Brilliant point, and close to Orwellian (shout out to 1984 fans). You create a workforce of Stepford wives and you will get nothing but homogenized thinking. As well as a similar look and feel in the hallways.

Miley was classy about giving Twitter its props, specifically sharing his pride experiencing Twitter’s reach for #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackTwitter and #Ferguson.

Regretfully, the Caspar Milquetoast hiring practices at Twitter has skewed remarkably one-sided, namely for a company that embraces as many causes as it does.

Last year, Twitter’s diversity report made national news (seen here in WSJ) because of its lack of being all things to all people. The bluebirds admitted 79 percent of its leadership team was make, 72 percent white, and only 30 percent of its entire workforce are women.

Oh, and only 3 percent and 2 percent of its U.S. rank-and-file were Latino and black, respectively.

And that’s when Miley shared this:

Personally, a particularly low moment was having my question about what specific steps Twitter engineering was taking to increase diversity answered by the Sr. VP of Eng [now SVP of engineering, Alex Roetter] at the quarterly Engineering Leadership meeting. When he responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.

There is so much more to say, but you really should treat yourself to reading his insights.

Miley points out an ongoing problem in the tech community. And while there doesn’t seem to be any resolution in sight, his clear thoughts should create some resolve. If the tech workforce wants to embrace diversity, there should be some variance with where it searches for those to reflect that diversity.


Publish date: November 5, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT