Welcome back to Human Capital where we talk about the latest developments in terms of work, diversity, and inclusion in technology.
The eyebrow raised moment this week was Wednesday when the U.S. Department of Labor essentially blamed Microsoft of reverse racism (not a real thing) for the obligation to hire more blacks in his predominantly white company.
And that wasn't even the most notable news of the week. Instead, that award goes to Uber engineer Kurt Nelson and his decision to speak out against his employer and press people to vote no to the Uber-sponsored California election aimed at making drivers independent contractors. I caught up with Nelson to learn more about what made him speak up. You can read what he had to say below in this newsletter.
But first, I have some of my own news to share – – Human Capital starts on Friday, October 23rd, in the form of a newsletter. Register here so you don't miss a thing.
Now for tea.
Coinbase loses about 5% of the workforce for its stance on social issues
Do you remember how Coinbase provided an out to employees who no longer wanted to work for the cryptocurrency company because of their stance on social issues? Well, Brian Armstrong, Coinbase CEO, said this week Around 5% of employees (60 people) have opted for the exit package, but there will likely be more as “a handful of other conversations” are still going on.
Armstrong noted how some people feared his stance would crowd out people of color and other under-represented minorities. However, in his blog post, Armstrong said these people "did not take the exit package in numbers that are disproportionate to the general population".
Trump's DOL goes to Microsoft because it pledged to hire more blacks
Microsoft announced this week that the US Department of Labor for Federal Contract Compliance Programs has contacted the company about its commitments made in June regarding racial justice and diversity. Microsoft was committed to doubling the number of black executive, senior, and executive executives in the U.S. by 2025. However, according to the OFCCP, this could be viewed as unlawful discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This is because, according to the letter, Microsoft's commitment "appears to imply that employment measures may be taken based on race".
"We are aware that the law forbids us to discriminate on the basis of race," Microsoft wrote in a blog post. “We also have positive commitments as a company serving the federal government to further increase the diversity of our workforce, and we take these commitments very seriously. We have decades of experience and know exactly how to create appropriate opportunities for people without taking other opportunities. We also know that we need to focus on creating more opportunities, including through specific programs designed to create a broad network of talent for whom we can make careers at Microsoft. "
This comes shortly after The Trump administration added federal contractors to its ban on diversity and anti-racism training. While this is outside of the scope of this ban, it is alarming to see the DOL go after a tech company in an attempt to increase diversity. However, it appears that the effects of the ban are making their way into the tech industry.
Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO of the Diversity Training Service Paradigm, says she lost her first client to the executive order. While it is not clear which customer this is, many of Paradigm's customers are technology companies.
We just lost our first customer due to the executive order for diversity training. I am sure it will not be our last. Seems like it's having exactly the intended effect. I wish I could say I'm proud to be on the right side of history, but I'm just scared.
– Joelle Emerson (@joelle_emerson) October 1, 2020
The Crunchbase report sheds light on VC funding for Black and Latinx founders
It is common knowledge that the founders of Black and Latinx are not getting nearly as much money as their white counterparts. Now Crunchbase has shed additional light on the situation. Here are some highlights from his 2020 Diversity Spotlight Report.
- Since 2015, the founders of Black and Latinx have raised more than $ 15 billion, which is just 2.4% of total venture capital raised.
- In 2020, the founders of Black and Latinx raised $ 2.3 billion, which is 2.6% of all VC funds through August 31, 2020.
- Since 2015, the top ten VC companies in the US have invested in around 70 startups founded by black or Latinx people.
- Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund are the two companies with the highest number of new investments in companies founded by Black or Latinx since 2015.
The Uber engineer is encouraging people to vote no on the Uber-sponsored Prop 22
Go against his employer, Uber engineer Kurt Nelson posted a comment on theinformationsuperhighway about why he votes against Prop 22. Prop 22 is an election in California designed to make ridesharing and delivery drivers independent contractors. I caught up with Nelson after he posted his comment to learn more about what made him speak out against Prop 22.
"It was a combination of COVID that was impacting unemployment and health insurance for a number of people, approaching the election and not seeing anyone who was really former Uber or Uber or former gig companies saying anything," said Nelson.
Plus, Nelson is on his way from Uber – something he talked to his manager about. He was already frustrated with how Uber had handled its layoff rounds that year, but the company's push for Prop 22 was "the last nail in the coffin".
Uber's big arguments as to why drivers should remain independent contractors is that this is what drivers want, and that it would be costly to make them employees. Uber has stated that there is also no way to give drivers flexibility and use them at the same time.
"I think it would be really challenging," said Uber director of politics, cities and transportation Shin-pei Tsay said to me at TC Sessions: mobility this week. "We'd have to start by ensuring coverage to ensure there were the necessary number of drivers to meet demand." That would be this forecast that must take place. We could only offer a certain number of jobs to meet this demand as people will be working in set periods of time. I think there would be fewer job opportunities, especially those that people really said they liked. "
But, as Nelson notes, Silicon Valley prides itself on addressing difficult problems.
"We're a technology company and we solve tough problems – we do," he said.
In response to his statement, Nelson said that some of his staff had reached out to him – some thanked him for saying something. Even before taking a position, Nelson said he was one of the few people who would speak negatively about Prop 22 on Uber's internal Slack channels. And it's no wonder why Uber, given the atmosphere Uber created around Prop 22.
During all-hands meetings, Nelson described how the executive team wore Yes on 22 shirts or had a Yes on 22 Zoom background. Uber has also offered employees a free Yes on 22 car decals and shirts, Nelson said.
As for Nelson's next job, he knows he "never wants to touch the gig economy again," he said. “I know that for sure. I'm done with the gig economy. "
Kickstarter agrees with the NLRB on the dismissal of the union organizer
Kickstarter agreed to pay Taylor Moore $ 36,598.63 in repayment, a former Kickstarter employee who was laid off last year, Vice reported. Moore was actively involved in organizing the company's union, which was officially recognized earlier this year. As part of the settlement with the National Labor Relations Board, Kickstarter also agreed to notify employees of the settlement each time it reopens on the intranet and in their physical office.
In September 2019, Kickstarter fired two people who were actively organizing a union. About a year later, the Labor Board found that Kickstarter had illegally fired a union organizer.
NLRB files complaint against Google contractor HCL America
It's been about a year since 80 Google contractors voted to union with US steel workers. However, the contractors who are officially employed by HCL America have been unable to bargain collectively. following a recent complaint from the National Labor Relations Board, received from Vice.
The complaint states that HCL failed to negotiate with the union and even transferred the work from members of the negotiating unit to non-union members based in Poland. The NLRB claims that HCL did this "because staff created, joined and supported the Union and carried out concerted activities and to discourage staff from engaging in those activities".