A Twitter exec told an Asian-American employee she could pass as white if she wore sunglasses after she spoke out about the company's lack of diversity, a report says

A Twitter exec told an Asian-American employee she could pass as white if she wore sunglasses after she spoke out about the company's lack of diversity, a report says
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO on September 5, 2018. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • Twitter's design chief dismissed an Asian-American employee's concerns over a lack of diversity.
  • The executive, Dantley Davis, was brought on to transform Twitter's too-nice work culture.
  • But the NYT reports that his approach was too harsh and caused some employees to leave.

Twitter's head of design came onto the team in 2019 to change the company's too-nice culture and make it more diverse.

The New York Times reports that the executive, Dantley Davis, instead promoted a culture of fear, made employees cry, and caused some people to leave the company.

The paper spoke with about a dozen current and former Twitter employees about how the company was worried about its long-time collaborative and kind work environment, which it said was stifling innovation and constructive criticism. And so Davis, who reports directly to CEO Jack Dorsey, aimed to toughen up the company with a blunt managerial style.

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But some employees say his treatment of them was too harsh and led to multiple HR investigations and complaints to Dorsey. One of the most recent investigations was launched earlier this year.

Twitter's head of HR told the Times: "This is actually a Twitter culture change that we've been trying to drive." Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.


At one meeting, Davis encouraged employees to critique and compliment each other, which led to multiple people crying, sources told the Times. They also said that, upon joining the company, Davis quickly resorted to criticizing, demoting, or cutting employees. And despite his openness to criticism, employees said he scolded those who criticized him.

And employees said that when Twitter's then-head of research, Liz Ferrall-Nunge, who is Asian-American, spoke out about the company's lack of diversity, David seemingly dismissed her concerns and said she could pass as white if she wore sunglasses. Ferrall-Nunge left the firm last year and declined the Times' request for comment.

Twitter's most recent research head, Nikkia Reveillac, expressed her concerns about what she called Davis' toxic behavior to Dorsey in May. Employees said she was shortly after driven out of the company and locked out of her work accounts. Her LinkedIn profile shows that her role at Twitter ended in June.

Both Davis and some Twitter officials have acknowledged that his approach was too harsh at times.

"I've been hearing and absorbing feedback about the culture and morale," Davis said in an internal note, which the Times viewed. "I love and deeply respect this team, it's the strongest team I've ever worked with, and yet it's clear that many of you aren't feeling that from me. I'm taking a step back to think about my style and approach."


Davis said other employees appreciated his leadership, and the Times spoke to workers who also thought the changes he was making were vital for the company's success.

Read the full report on The New York Times here.