Snap has launched an investigation into accusations of racism and sexism within the company, anonymous sources have told Business Insider.
Per the sources, the independent firm (Seattle-based Williams Kastner) have contacted both current and former staff. The investigation appears to concern stories that ex-employees recounted in a June 9th Mashable article about their experiences working for Snap between 2015 and 2018.
Multiple sources told Mashable that they experienced a racist culture during their time at the company, and that leadership disparaged Black representation in media. One employee said they were asked to replace a lead image of Black performers with a “friendlier face.” The same manager told another employee that a story was “too black-heavy” and asked that some snaps of Black people be replaced with people of other races. The employee included the incident in an HR review of the manager but did not hear back.
Snap told Mashable at the time that it was “looking into” the complaint. CEO Evan Spiegel told employees in a recent all-hands meeting that the company was investigating the incidents that Mashable reported.
Snap is one of the few Silicon Valley companies that has never released a diversity report. In the same all-hands meeting, Spiegel announced that the company would continue to keep its diversity numbers private. “We’ve been worried that all these disclosures have actually normalized the current composition of the tech workforce,” the executive said in an interview with CNBC. He claimed that Snap is working on “a new way right now to release that information.”
”We are fully committed to publicly releasing our diversity numbers, along with our plans for meaningful change,” a Snap spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.
The company also drew criticism for releasing a Juneteenth filter that prompted users to “smile and break the chains,” showing what appeared to be an approximation of the Pan-African flag. Snap’s president of diversity and inclusion apologized in a companywide email, specifying that the filter was the result of a collaboration between Black and white employees. Snap is investigating that matter as well, per a company spokesperson.
It wasn’t the first filter Snap has gotten in trouble for — the company released a Bob Marley filter back in 2016 that effectively created blackface, as well as an anime-inspired lens that some users felt morphed faces into racist Asian caricatures.
Update July 21st, 6:01pm ET: The story has been updated to include a statement from Snap.