Silicon Valley Struggles to Add Conservatives to Its Ranks

This summer, Twitter Inc.’s new diversity chief met employees to discuss whether they felt welcome at work. Among those who said they sometimes felt excluded, according to people familiar with the matter, were conservatives.

The feedback reflects the strains in Silicon Valley as technology companies seek to bolster diversity of all kinds among their hundreds of thousands of employees. For the mostly left-leaning companies that includes cultivating ideological variety, just as they are trying to with underrepresented groups like women and minorities.

“There is a lot happening in the world, and we need inclusion now more than ever,” Twitter’s diversity chief, Candi Castleberry-Singleton, tweeted in August.

Companies such as Facebook Inc., Google’s Alphabet Inc. and Pinterest Inc. say doing so is important because their billions of users globally have a broad range of views and interests. And the perception that employee biases could seep into their products could damage their reputations. Tech executives who advocate for tolerance of various views also say it is in keeping with the industry’s penchant for robust debate and transparency.

“I personally believe that if you want to have a company that is committed to diversity, you need to be committed to all kinds of diversity, including ideological diversity,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told students at North Carolina A&T State University in March.

But that vision can clash with reality in an industry where liberal social views dominate and attitudes have become more polarized since the election of President Donald Trump, current and former tech workers say. In November, for example, Bahtiyar Duysak, a Twitter contract employee, was celebrated by current and former employees of the company after he briefly deactivated the Twitter account of Mr. Trump.

“It didn’t seem like there was much support for President Trump at Twitter,” said Mr. Duysak, who deactivated the account on his last day at Twitter.

Mr. Duysak praised Mr. Trump’s ambition and hard work in an interview, but said he doesn’t support him politically. He says deactivating Mr. Trump’s account was an accident.

Aaron Ginn, president of the Lincoln Network, an advocacy group for conservatives and libertarians in the tech sector, said some tech workers have told him they are uneasy about expressing views that are out of step with their liberal colleagues’ because doing so could offend others, and hurt their reputation and job prospects.

“People feel scared of violating whatever code of conduct these lynch mobs might have,” he said, referring to those outspoken about their liberal views.

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Source: Wall Street Journal