Tech at Work: Black gig workers speak out, Uber’s commitment to being anti-racist and Facebook’s diversity report

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 8: After dropping off passengers at a Broadway play, Johan Nijman, a for-hire driver who runs his own service and also drives for Uber on the side, drives through the West Side of Manhattan on Wednesday evening, August 8, 2018 in New York City. On Wednesday, New York City became the first American city to halt new vehicles for ride-hail services. The legislation passed by the New York City Council will cap the number of for-hire vehicles for one year while the city studies the industry. The move marks a setback for Uber in its largest U.S. market. Nijman, a member of the Independent Drivers Guild who has been driving in various capacities since 1991, says the temporary vehicle cap is a good start but he would like to see the city do more to deal with the over-saturation of vehicles and new drivers. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

elcome back to Tech at Work, a bi-weekly roundup and analysis of labor, and diversity and inclusion in tech.

This week, we’re looking at Uber’s anti-racism commitment, Shipt shoppers walking off the job, Facebook’s diversity report and Black gig workers organizing against tech companies. Also, hear from CODE2040 CEO Karla Monterroso on tech’s response to the recent racial justice uprising in the U.S.

“There are a lot of really well-intentioned people, but they’re like, ‘Hey, put me in touch with all your Black and Latinx people,” Monterroso told me. “We have definitely gotten requests for free access to our talent pool. What we are talking through with people is even if you had access to that, your ability to make something of that is incredibly limited because the competencies needed to get people into the workforce, promote and retain them are not had by tech companies at this moment.”


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Uber commits to being an anti-racist company

Uber’s track record with diversity and inclusion was especially rocky in the days of former CEO Travis Kalanick. The company’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi seems to recognize that, saying “you’re probably thinking that Uber is not exactly the company you’d expect to be speaking up on this front.” Still, Uber has made a number of commitments on its journey to being an anti-racist company.

But first, let’s define anti-racist. From Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be An Antiracist:

To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right — inferior or superior — with any of the racial groups. Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races. To be antiracist is to deracialize behavior, to remove the tattooed stereotype from every racialized body. Behavior is something humans do, not races do.

Here are some of the most notable of Uber’s commitments:

  • Double Black representation in leadership (director roles and higher) by 2025. Currently, Black people make up just 3.3% of Uber’s leadership team, while white people make up 59.9% of it.
  • Expand diversity report to include data on intersectionality and self-identification. Race, gender, class, sexual orientation and disability status are highly connected for folks. Intersectionality is the concept that people face multi-faceted layers of discrimination as a result of these intersecting identities.
  • Create more opportunities for drivers, delivery people and support staff to advance their careers. Uber has been talking about this at least since 2018.