Facebook has performed woefully in diversity hiring, and it’s tone and direction is shaped by Peter Thiel, a far-right political activist and Donald Trump supporter.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is under fire because of his “diversity” defense of Peter Thiel, the CEO and co-founder of Paypal — and ardent Donald Trump supporter. Thiel was the first investor in Facebook and sits on the board where he helps shape the tone, direction and culture of the company.
For years, Facebook has been accused of paying only lip service to diversity, and for failing to recruit a diverse workforce. Now the company is being scrutinized again on the diversity front because of Thiel — and Zuckerberg’s unflinching support of him.
Thiel has donated $1.25 million to the Trump campaign, solidly adopting a far-right political stance and acceptance of Trump’s views such as curtailing a woman’s right to choose, limiting immigration, creating tax cuts for the wealthy, appearing to pay lip service to the needs of African-Americans and Hispanics, and creating suspicion about certain groups of people, including Mexicans and Muslims.
Zuckerberg argues that Facebook is definitely committed to diversity, although he isn’t acknowledging that Theil’s presence on the board is certainly a distraction.
“We care deeply about diversity,” Zuckerberg wrote in a message to employees. “That’s easy to say when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It’s a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about. That’s even more important.”
“We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate. There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault. It may be because they believe strongly in smaller government, a different tax policy, health care system, religious issues, gun rights or any other issue where he disagrees with Hillary.”
“I know there are strong views on the election this year both in the US and around the world,” Zuckerberg’s memo continues. “We see them play out on Facebook every day. Our community will be stronger for all our differences – not only in areas like race and gender, but also in areas like political ideology and religion.”
A brilliant and deeply contrarian figure, Thiel has poured his wealth into interesting areas, like paying kids to drop out of college and anti-aging schemes. He even wanted to build an independent, libertarian nation at sea. He’s also expressed alarming views about how welfare and women’s suffrage are ruining democracy, and co-authored a book about how identity politics have destroyed academia. And, of course, he funded the lawsuit that ultimately bankrupted the publishing company Gawker Media Group.
If a Facebook janitor spouted some of Thiel’s harsher stuff at work, she’d get a talking-to from human resources. But that’s the point: These types of idiosyncrasies are typically reserved for the very powerful.
There is some support for Zuckerberg. MRCTV maintains he is taking the proper position. MRCTV wrote:
Zuckerberg’s free speech and open debate position is reassuring after claims surfaced earlier this year that Facebook’s trending feature is pro-liberal and that the social media site downplays popular conservative stories. He has been known to donate to both political parties and has not yet endorsed anyone in the presidential race.
For now, Zuckerberg will continue to walk a tightrope. One tip for him is to hire more people of color for his massive enterprise, including putting more women in the highest-paying jobs. Moves like that could put any dust-up about Thiel and Trump far in Facebook’s rear mirror.