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Congressman Cleaver Applauds Facebook’s Hiring Decision Following His Push for Industry Leaders to Enhance Diversity in Tech

Jan 18, 2018
Press Release
Facebook announced today the addition of Kenneth Chenault to its Board of Directors. In October 2017, Congressman Cleaver urged Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg to do more to include minorities and women within its workforce, especially within leadership positions.

(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II is pleased to hear that after much discussion with Facebook’s executives regarding diversity and inclusion, Facebook has announced that outgoing CEO of American Express, Kenneth Chenault, has agreed to join its Board of Directors. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, made the announcement today posting this statement.

Kenneth Chenault is a successful business executive and was the third African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

“There are a significant number of qualified minorities who are more than capable to be among the leadership of major companies such as Facebook - a social medium that is used by all races, colors, and creeds. I am pleased to hear that Facebook has not only acknowledged the lack of diversity within its company but they listened to our concerns and chose a new direction for the future,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO).

Last year, Congressman Cleaver, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) sent a series of letters to Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. The Members encouraged Facebook and Twitter to take immediate action to combat the spread of racially divisive communications on their sites. The Members also encouraged Facebook and Twitter to recognize that the company needed to do more to include minorities and women within its workforce, especially within leadership positions.

“I’m pleased to see Facebook taking real action to address the issue of diversity within their company. America’s diversity is her strength and our strongest industries should reflect that fact. Kenneth Chenault is a proven leader with tremendous knowledge and experience. When we began this dialogue with Facebook, we expected swift action and this decision is without a doubt a step in the right direction,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “Much work still remains to diversify Silicon Valley. Progress has been slow and we will continue to press companies to enact inclusive hiring policies. I remain committed to working with tech leadership to attain this goal.”

“Kenneth Chenault’s business acumen and record of success is clear, and I am pleased he will bring that experience to Facebook. Mr. Chenault appointment demonstrates that companies like Facebook do not need to sacrifice diversity for quality at their highest and most consequential leadership ranks. As this industry takes additional steps to diversify their leadership, I strongly encourage them to look outside the box for dynamic talent and emerging leaders, not simply safe picks that have already ascended to the highest echelons of business success. Nonetheless, I do look forward to working with Mr. Chenault and the entire leadership at Facebook to address the concerns that Representatives Kelly, Cleaver and I laid out in our letter last year. We must ensure that our social media and tech leaders are operating responsibly on behalf of their users and the communities that we represent,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Congressman Cleaver was also among those CBC members who met with Sandberg to discuss allegations that Russian-backed agencies exploited the company’s system to influence the outcome of the 2016 election through the spread of racial and discriminatory advertisements. He has been an advocate for racial justice and inequality within the tech industry and social media platforms.

See letter regarding lack of minorities in leadership positions in the tech industry, here.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.