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Twitter Engineering Lead Alex Roetter Apologizes for Diversity Issues: 'We Have Blind Spots'

Twitter responded to a former employee's criticism Thursday night.

Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.

Diversity was (once again) a popular topic of conversation inside Twitter headquarters this week following a blog post from a former employee who criticized company execs for failing to create a diverse workplace.

Now Twitter is weighing in via its own blog post from top engineering exec, Alex Roetter, who was called out in the post for how he handled diversity issues among his reports. Leslie Miley, a former engineer, singled out Roetter for suggesting the company use job applicants’ names to determine their ethnicity as a way to track why certain minority groups aren’t hired more regularly at the company.

“What I also found disconcerting is this otherwise highly sophisticated thinker could posit that an issue this complex could be addressed by name analysis,” Miley wrote.

Some Twitter insiders have complained that, at times, Twitter can feel like a “bro culture.” Roetter has been seen by some employees — correctly or incorrectly — as representing that culture internally.

Roetter apologized in a blog post Thursday night for doing a “poor job communicating,” and agreed things at Twitter need to change.

“I realize that we have blind spots, myself included,” Roetter wrote. “One of mine is that I have a tendency to default to engineering-driven, quantitative solutions. The issues Leslie raise require so much more than that.”

“I’ve learned a lot this week,” he continued. “We as a company are working to address our blind spots swiftly to build a Twitter that will make our employees and people who use our services proud.”

 Twitter SVP of Engineering Alex Roetter
Twitter SVP of Engineering Alex Roetter

The blog post served as a pseudo-plug for the company’s current diversity efforts, things like “inclusion training” and resource groups for minority employees, which Roetter listed.

Miley’s critical post on Twitter’s workplace culture was not the first time the company has dealt with a diversity issue. An internal Twitter team also hosted a frat-themed party earlier this year, prompting CEO Jack Dorsey to establish actual hiring goals at the company for women and minorities.

In his post Tuesday, Miley wrote: “There was very little diversity in thought and almost no diversity in action [at Twitter].”

Roetter, like Dorsey did before him, vowed that this will change. “I want Twitter to be a place where all employees feel comfortable raising questions about diversity. That hasn’t always been the case, which is unacceptable,” he wrote. “We all want the same results — stronger representation of underrepresented minorities at all levels within Twitter.”

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