Facebook, Google lobbyists push for diversity in response to Congress

The Internet Association plans to hire for a new position to focus on these issues.

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Rob LeFebvre
January 24th, 2018
Getty Images
Getty Images

Silicon valley has a diversity problem. Sexism and racism are everywhere in the technology sector, and it's time to put an end to it. The Internet Association, a lobbying group for some of the biggest names in tech (think Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, Facebook, Google and Twitter) has promised to hire a new person to focus on these issues. According to Recode, the new push comes in response to the threat of regulation from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Two members of Congress wrote to the Association last November. In it, Emanuel Cleaver, II, and Bonnie Watson Coleman asked for more transparency and better policies to ensure the diversity of hires in the technology industry, ending with a bit of a threat. "If these issues go unchecked Congress will be left with few options and will demand increased regulations to address these issues," they wrote.

The Internet Association's leader Michael Beckerman responded to this missive with a letter of his own (it was obtained by Recode) on January 23rd. "It is important that the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints among internet users is represented in the industry generally and our policy engagement specifically," he wrote. Beckerman also promised a commitment to revealing more accurate data on who's employed by its member companies.

Congressman Cleaver said that he was cautiously optimistic about the new hiring announcement. "The Internet Association has responded in a very serious and proactive manner to our concerns that there was no one guarding the guardians when it comes to the internet and its potentially negative effects on racial and gender bias," he told Recode. "It is critical that this position be given a high level of authority and respect such that any perceived racial and gender biases can be immediately identified and addressed."

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