Two cost-cutting rounds of layoffs affected hundreds of Snap employees last year beginning in March. While the company, which owns Snapchat, maintains that the majority of these employees were men, a greater number of employees across some teams who worked directly with the company’s top brass and were laid off were women, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Citing multiple sources familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that multiple of these women—who worked on growth and design teams—were paid out additional cash and stock shares after raising concerns about discrimination. The allegations followed previously reported claims of a sexist workplace culture at Snap raised by a female engineer who left the company months prior. Per the Journal:
A spokeswoman for Snap said roughly 70% of the 218 layoffs were men, and said the company defines the growth and design teams more broadly. Under those definitions, there were nine total layoffs on those teams: six women and three men. The company also said it negotiated additional severance benefits for some male employees.
“The company-wide restructuring we implemented in the first half of 2018 impacted both men and women,” a Snap spokesperson told Gizmodo by email. “In fact, the majority of the people impacted were men. The decisions we made when determining the people impacted had absolutely nothing to do with gender.”
The restructuring efforts last year hit nearly 220 Snap employees, a move that was expected to save the company $34 million (£26 million) a year in taxes and employee overhead, Variety reported at the time. A Snap spokesperson said that restructuring relating to the design and growth teams included reassigning some employees to other teams as well as layoffs that affected the three men and six women.
Following the 2018 layoffs, Cheddar obtained and published in May an email written by Snap software engineer Shannon Lubetich in November that highlighted multiple instances of what she described as a culture with a “pervading sexist vibe” and lacking in diversity. Lubetich told Cheddar that prior to writing the email, she had “been unhappy and frustrated with the internal response to me bringing any issues to HR.”
Following Lubetich’s internal email but prior to it being made public by Cheddar, the Information published a report in December of 2017 about Snap’s head of human resources Jason Halbert that appeared to corroborate some of her claims. The report said that among other things, Halbert had in meetings discussed with employees “rapists and mass murderers” and how, during his time in the military, “he used sexual fantasies to help him meditate, which brought him to orgasm.”
The Information reported at the time that an investigation was launched into the allegations. Business Insider reported in January that Halbert was to leave the company, though he remained in the role through March 1, a Snap spokesperson said.
The company said it’s carried out several changes in the time since last year’s layoffs, including adding four women to its executive suite, new training for managers and employees that focuses specifically on “unconscious bias,” and a mentorship programme for female employees. [Wall Street Journal]