2020 has turned out to be a tough year for popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, as the company and its founder’s ‘apolitical’ culture stance, has left the company open to even accusations of racism.
The crypto trading platform was recently the subject of a New York Times report, which highlights the various racial issues within the company, pointing towards several departures of Black employees and a consistently low percentage of Black hires.
Coinbase has denied the presence of such issues, and has even hired outside consultants and conducted internal investigations into these claims by current and former employees. The reviews were not able to confirm these allegations.
However, the company’s hiring record reveals that Black employees consistently comprise about three percent of its workforce. Depending on the field chosen in official employment statistics, this is anywhere from one-half to one-third of what’s the industry average. Corporate expansion also had no effect on this percentage.
The report noted that other tech companies, such as Square, PayPal and Twitter have worked at increasing the share of Black employees in their firms.
The report even cites a number of employees, with One Black employee stating that her manager suggested in front of other employees that she was dealing drugs and carrying a gun, based on racist stereotypes.
Another noted that a co-worker at a recruiting meeting openly described Black employees as less capable. While another employee said managers spoke down to her and her Black colleagues, adding that they were passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced white employees. These incidents altogether have led to the wave of departures at the company.
“Most people of color working in tech know that there’s a diversity problem,” said Ms. Butler, who resigned in April 2019. “But I’ve never experienced anything like Coinbase.”
The New York Times report continues that Black employees of the firm were hurt by the decision of the company’s leadership who did not address the matter. The employees had also organized a meeting with the executives, and CEO Brian Armstrong had said:
“There was this outpouring of, like, Why does the company not have my back?”
It all started back in September
It all originated from a blog post from the CEO that stated that Coinbase was ‘mission-focused’ and it suggested that activism was a distraction from that mission. The conversation went deeper for those at the company as a memo said those who wanted to maintain their activism would have to take a severance.
The New York Times report particularly highlights one line in this company blog post. “We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission.” According to the report, the post with this line outraged the employees.