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Twitter appoints 1st Black board member, Debra L. Lee

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Debra Lee attends the Ailey Spirit Gala Benefit at the David H. Koch Theater on June 10, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Raymond Hagans/RollingOut

After enduring much criticism due the the lack of diversity among Twitter employees, the social media giant made a move to correct matters.

Monday, May 16, Twitter revealed that BET’s Debra L. Lee has been appointed to its board of directors. Lee’s appointment makes her Twitter’s first Black board member and third female board member.

This is an interesting yet expected move on Twitter’s part. Recent reports revealed that only 2 percent of Twitter’s employees are Black or Latino. The disparity is even greater higher up the totem pole. Only 1 percent of the managers at the company are Black or Latino. Furthermore, last year, the company made headlines when engineering manager Leslie Miley, who was the only Black engineer in a leadership position at Twitter, left the company due to a disagreement about how Twitter should solve its diversity issues. Miley shared in a scathing post online that when he asked a question about how Twitter would solve diversity issues in its engineering leadership, Twitter’s senior VP of engineering answered, “diversity is important, but we won’t lower the bar.”

While the company fails to hire minority employees, particularly at the executive level, it’s known that Black users, especially those in the “Black Twitter” universe, draw a huge following, increasing the company’s profits. According to the Pew Research Center, while only 28 percent of Whites, age 18-29 tweet, a whopping 40 percent of African Americans in the same age group use Twitter. Moreover, Black folks make Twitter lots of money, but Twitter does little to return the favor. The ironic relationship had many users looking for other social media platforms that would value their patronage.

Still, many are happy to see Lee, who serves as chief executive officer of BET Networks, appointed to the board of directors. Lee shared her excitement with her 67K Twitter followers. “Thrilled to be joining the ‪@twitter board,” she tweeted. “It’s transformed the media and the world like few other things in history (and continues to)!!”