Things are continuing to go downhill for Snapchat in 2018. A former engineer for Snapchat has opened up about an internal letter she wrote to the company last year, claiming its parent company Snap Inc. created a toxic work environment that is uninviting to women and people of color.
“It is my deepest hope that this company can be a place that is kind, smart, and creative,” Shannon Lubetich wrote in a farewell letter to her 1,300 engineering coworkers, according to a report from Cheddar. “I’m just done fighting for it when very few other people seem to care.”
The software engineer also shared more specific concerns she had regarding Snap’s former Senior Vice President of Engineering Tim Sehn, who left in November of last year. Lubetich told Cheddar that Sehn made jokes about penis enlargement and used the word “retarded” during a meeting. She called Sehn a “pervading sexist vibe” in the company.
Lubetich brought up Snap’s issues with diversity, pointing to a specific company-wide meeting last fall led entirely by white, male department heads. The engineer said she experienced “macho competitions and male-dominated turf wars” between managers and employees in the office, like male co-workers bragging about taking only a few days off after the birth of their children, and doing push-up competitions. The company also hosted “boys’ night” co-ed soccer league events as well as alcohol-supplied hot tub parties after hours. During one of these parties last summer, Snap reportedly “hired scantily clad women” in costumes that resembled Snapchat’s deer filter.
As Daily Dot points out, Snap released some numbers on women holding roles in the company in response to Cheddar's story. The company didn’t share statistics about the diversity of its staff. The company reported that 13 percent of its tech roles are held by women, 22 percent of its senior positions are held by women, and five of over two dozen VP roles and higher are held by women. Snap’s board of seven people includes one woman.
In response to Lubetich’s email, Snap’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Jerry Hunter responded by attempting to highlight all the ways the company is attempting to foster diversity. “We’ve worked hard to make Snap a place where everyone feels respected and everyone can grow,” Hunter wrote. “I’m excited about the progress that we have made this year, but know that we certainly have more work to do.”
Read Lubetich’s full email below.
The time for my (and I guess Tim’s) departure is near, so I wanted to send some reminders.
An engineer can be Kind Compassionate Collaborative Outgoing, extroverted Loving, warm, friendly A person who takes more than 2 days off when their child is born A person who isn’t straight, or doesn’t want to get married and have kids A person who doesn’t drink Red Bull or alcohol A person who admits that they’re wrong A person who loves Council A person of color A woman
It’s fine if this list doesn’t describe you. But it’s not fine if you think, consciously or subconsciously, that these traits prevent you from being a good engineer.
It is my deepest hope that this company can be a place that is kind, smart, and creative. I’m just done fighting for it when very few other people seem to care.
All the best for snap,
Read Hunter's response, sent the same day, below.
Thank you for sending this note. I’m glad I had a chance to meet with you recently and what we had a chance to discuss Snapchat. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to spend more time together.
I mentioned that I participate in a Women in Engineering group. The leaders in that group and I are committed to making Snapchat an even more inclusive place and I’m sorry that you won’t be there to add your voice to our journey. But I know you’ll be there in spirit. And I wish you the best of luck!
I’d also like everyone on this thread to understand that I take inclusion at Snapchat very seriously. I know many of you are doing work to make Snap better. If you are interested in learning more about what we are doing, let us know. I and the leaders in the Women in Engineering group would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.