Black Lawmakers Confront Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg On Company’s Lack of Diversity

Black lawmakers used a meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday to demand the company do more to address its lack of diversity.

“The fact that no African-Americans serve on the board of directors, there are no African-Americans in their C-suite — that is unacceptable,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) told reporters after the meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Butterfield and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said that during the meeting, Sandberg heeded their concerns and committed to bringing a black director onto the company’s board “within the foreseeable future.”

“There will be at least an African-American on the board of directors and once a vacancy is created in the C-suite there will be African-American representation in the C-suite,” Butterfield said.

Kelly said she believed Sandberg had a candidate in mind, but that Sandberg did not share further details with the caucus.

Lawmakers in the meeting also pushed Sandberg on how Russian actors used the platform to purchase political ads during the 2016 election, focusing specifically on ads that took advantage of racial tensions in the U.S.

“For us, this a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said. “What we needed Facebook to understand is that they play a role in the perception of African-Americans and they are influencers that use their platform to influence this country.”

Richmond suggested that racially charged posts on Facebook did not just influence the public, but also motivated decisions by law enforcement officials.

“If you look at the reputation of Black Lives Matter, for instance, they are portrayed as being violent. Take that and look at the FBI assessment in August where they created a new class of threats called ‘Black Identity Extremists,’ ” Richmond said after the meeting.

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The Hill