Facebook Manager Quits, Was Allegedly Harassed After Saying Board Has Too Many White Men

Written by Ann Brown

A Facebook engineering manager, frustrated with the lack of diversity at the tech giant, up and quit saying she was harassed due to her calls for change.

Sophie Alpert, who ran a major open-source project called React, tweeted on Jan. 11: “today’s my last day at Facebook.”

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Although Alpert did say she had landed a new job at a startup called Humu, it was not the main reason for her departing Facebook.

Four days before announcing her resignation, Alpert, who identifies as transgender, posted a message on Facebook’s internal social network saying that she had been harassed by colleagues for criticizing the lack of diversity at the company, the Daily Beast reported. Alpert also alleged that she’d been verbally attacked on Blind, an anonymous workplace app.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AVAAZ – While Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before the Senate, 100 cardboard cutouts of the Facebook founder and CEO stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Advocacy group Avaaz is calling attention to hundreds of millions of fake accounts still spreading disinformation on Facebook, and calling for the social media giant to submit to an independent audit. (Kevin Wolf/AP images for AVAAZ)

Facebook ‘not the right place for me’

“Facebook is good for many people, but it’s not the right place for me right now,” Alpert wrote on Workplace. “I want to spend my time at a place willing to push further on diversity and inclusion. One where it’s not OK to write… that white privilege doesn’t exist. One where if I call out that our board has too many white men, I don’t get harassed by other employees on Blind with transphobic messages saying I should be fired.”

Alpert isn’t alone in jumping the Facebook ship over lack of diversity. Former Facebook manager Mark Luckie, who is African-American, accused the company of having “a Black people problem,” and said that “in some buildings, there are more ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters than there are actual Black people.”

Facebook is still predominantly male and white, despite years of company PR efforts and promises to do better. Just 36 percent of the company’s more-than 30,000 workers are women, according to the 2017 Facebook diversity report. This was an increase from 31 percent in 2014. Black employees comprised 4 percent of the company in 2018.

According to Facebook, the number of employees who identify as “LGBQA+ or Trans+” increased for a third straight year to 8 percent.

In a statement to CNBC, Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison said the company doesn’t tolerate harassment and has “clear policies about how people should communicate with and treat each other at Facebook.”

Facebook had developed a new “set of ground rules” for communication at work, Business Insider recently reported. In a memo, Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, explained the three new guidelines: “Don’t insult, bully, or antagonize others.”

Over the past few years, Facebook has said it was working on its diversity problem, but these days the company is putting out one fire after another related to data breaches and security issues. The diversity problem has been overshadowed in the past year.

“With the stock down more than 15 percent in the last 12 months, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his hands full dealing with concerned users, advertisers, investors and lawmakers,” CNBC reported.

Alpert is not alone in fleeing Facebook. The company is being challenged by a mass exodus of talent, including high-level departures of the founders of Instagram and WhatsApp as well as security chief Alex Stamos.