Twitter has hired Jeffery Siminoff as vice president of diversity and inclusion, replacing Janet Van Huysse, company employees announced on—where else—Twitter. Siminoff was previously the director of worldwide inclusion and diversity at Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Van Huysse is leaving Twitter after six years. She led the company's HR department, and earlier this year, she penned a blog post outlining diversity goals for 2016 including increasing the overall representation of women companywide to 35%, and increasing the proportion of underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9%.
Twitter (twtr) is no stranger to diversity controversy and for new CEO Jack Dorsey, diversity is an important company goal, according to Recode. The company is currently in the middle of a gender discrimination lawsuit with a former employee. Earlier this summer, the company stirred up controversy when it held a frat party-themed office party, which observers said highlighted the technology industry's overall lack of gender diversity.
In November, Rev. Jesse Jackson asked the company for a "specific accounting" of the percentage of underrepresented minorities who were laid off during a recent downsizing. Twitter is also reportedly aiming for more diversity on its board of directors.
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Overall, according to Twitter's voluntarily shared diversity data, the company is in the middle of the pack compared to other major tech companies when it comes to gender diversity. In 2014, it ranked ninth out of 14 big tech companies on gender diversity and sixth on ethnic diversity, according to data compiled by Fortune. Siminoff will have his work cut out for him.
While Siminoff was at Apple, the company had a few high-profile public moments related to diversity, especially surrounding gay rights. After Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was gay in a Bloomberg editorial, he became a public voice on gay rights issues, including speaking out against anti-gay "religious freedom laws" in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. In August, he said that Apple has a "lot more work" to do on diversity issues.
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Still, Apple generally falls in line with other big tech companies when it comes to employee diversity, meaning that women and certain minorities are underrepresented in engineering and management roles. According to Apple's most recent diversity report, women make up 31% of the company, although that's boosted by Apple's substantial retail workforce. Technology roles at Apple are 79% men and 78% white and Asian.
As Techcrunch notes, Siminoff does appear to be a good fit for Twitter's HR department, although some commentators on social media are cynical about the hire, pointing to the fact that he's a white man replacing a woman in a diversity role. As diversity becomes a major touchstone in Silicon Valley as companies try to mold their workforces to better match their user bases, it would make sense that Dorsey would want a new person in charge of the effort.