GitHub diversity and inclusion exec leaves as employee concerns mount
- A top executive hired in part to run a diversity and inclusion program for tech startup GitHub has resigned, generating concern among the company's employees, BuzzFeed News reports.
- GitHub hired Nicole Sanchez in 2015 as its VP of social impact following a sexual harassment scandal that forced founder Tom Preston-Werner to step down. The incident ignited an internal debate among Github employees over the company's culture, according to the report.
- Sanchez oversaw a social impact team charged with GitHub's diversity and inclusion mission. The team started out making positive changes, according to employees interviewed by Buzzfeed, but seemed to hit a "roadblock" by late 2016 amid financial pressures. Some employees are reportedly worried that upper-management has withdrawn its support of the social impact team's initiatives.
The apparent re-emergence of GitHub's struggles couldn't occur at a worse time for the tech industry, which has struggled with a dismal hiring record when it comes to diversity in addition to strings of sexual harassment allegations. Despite assurances from industry leaders (ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick among them), that their firms will overhaul their organizational culture and/or hire new staff to address these issues, problems persist.
Sanchez’s relatively short two-year tenure shows the difficulty in shifting from a non-inclusive culture with a legacy of sexual misconduct to one that embraces diversity. HR leaders both inside and outside of tech should be taking note of the efforts of GitHub and others as they execute their own diversity initiatives.
It's not as if success stories aren't out there. For example, Accenture, the business services firm, announced in March that it exceeded its 2020 goals to raise its hiring rate for women from 36% to 40% in 2017. Among the firm's 1,000 new hires are African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and workers with disabilities.