Snapchat Hires Oona King As Its First Chief of Diversity and Inclusion

Snap Inc., the company behind the famous social media app Snapchat, hired former Google Director of Diversity Strategy Oona King as the company’s first-ever vice president of diversity and inclusion. King’s hiring comes just weeks after Snap appointed its first Black c-suite executive Kenny Mitchell in April.

Snap employees learned of King’s hiring in a memo sent by Snap Chief People Officer Lara Sweet on May 23, TechCrunch reported. Sweet told employees that the company wants to “lead by example and contribute to human progress by breaking down systemic barriers that lead to people feeling excluded.”

King, who will officially start working on June 11, is Sweet’s first hire, Variety reported. “We’re so excited to have Oona join us, to help us build diversity and inclusion into everything we do — from how we build teams, to how we create products and content,” Sweet wrote. “We’re confident she will help us make Snap a more diverse and inclusive company at all levels.”

The company has faced allegations of discrimination. They also have been accused of having a toxic and sexist work environment that alienates women and people of color. Snap has yet to release a diversity report and did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment on King’s hiring.

Reports recently revealed Snap paid settlements to at least three female employees who claimed they lost their jobs during layoffs that allegedly disproportionately targeted their gender. The layoffs began in March 2018, and six female employees from the company’s growth and design teams were let go, The Wall Street Journal reported.

When those employees asked why women were targeted in the layoffs, Snap reportedly paid at least three of the affected employees extra shares of stock and cash, in addition to their severance packages. A Snap spokeswoman later told The Wall Street Journal that around 70 percent of the 218 layoffs were men.

Former software engineer Shannon Lubetich sent her colleagues a memo in November 2017 that criticized the company for failing to promote diversity and for fostering a “sexist” and “toxic” work environment. Lubetich told Cheddar that the company hosted parties with hired female dancers wearing revealing clothing and that sexual jokes were made in the office.

Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel later referred to Lubetich’s memo as a “wake-up call.” The memo prompted the company to hire external consultants to determine areas Snap could improve. The company conducted a company-wide survey and changed the way promotions were conducted, Spiegel said in a May 2018 tech conference, TechCrunch reported.

King recently worked as the director of diversity strategy at Google and served as YouTube’s global director of diverse marketing. She began her career in politics and was the second Black woman to be elected to British Parliament in 1997, according to Forbes. King worked as an advisor to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the issues of equality, diversity, and faith. She was appointed as a life peer in the House of Lords as Baroness King of Bow in 2011.

King’s hiring comes about a month after the company announced Kenny Mitchell would join Snap as its chief marketing officer (CMO) in June. Mitchell, who previously served as the vice president of marketing at McDonald’s USA, is the first person to hold the CMO position at Snap and is the first African American to join Snap’s c-suite. By and large, the tech industry has struggled to improve the diversity of its workplace, especially when it comes to women and people of color. A report by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that women comprise just about 30 percent of employees at Silicon Valley tech firms, The Wall Street Journal reported. To make things more complicated, a recent report by Russell Reynolds Associates on chief diversity officers (CDOs) found that about half of the S&P companies have a CDO but more than half of CDOs do not have the resources available to fulfill their responsibilities.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.