Lobbying group for Amazon, Google, Facebook hires staffer to head diversity efforts

Lobbying group for Amazon, Google, Facebook hires staffer to head diversity efforts
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A group that lobbies on behalf of major technology companies, including Amazon, Facebook and Google, announced on Wednesday that it is hiring a new counsel and director of diversity and inclusion to improve minority representation — an issue currently causing widespread controversy in the technology industry.

The new hire, Sean Perryman, “will lead and coordinate IA’s advocacy efforts around diversity, inclusion, and workforce-related policies at the local, state, and federal level,” according to a release from the tech lobbying group, the Internet Association.

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Perryman previously served on the Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as counsel and liaison to the IT subcommittee, a role in which he focused on tech policy issues.

“It’s critical that our industry better engages on issues of diversity, technology, and workforce policy at every level of government,” Melika Carroll, senior vice president of global government affairs at the Internet Association, said of Perryman’s hire.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) praised IA's new hire, but said that progress is still necessary. 

“The Internet Association should be commended for taking proactive steps to improve diversity in its own workforce and in its industry. This should be the commencement and not the culmination of a larger effort to address issues of inclusion in the tech industry, including fintech and AI," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)

The Internet Association announced earlier this year that it would create the position after strong criticism of the technology from the CBC that major tech firms lack representation of people of color.

CBC members sent major technology firms and industry trade associations letters on the matter and grilled Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on the subject during a meeting last October.

CBC members were critical of the state of Silicon Valley’s diversity efforts during a trip to the Bay Area last fall.

“They say they want to achieve parity but they have no specific goals or pathways. It’s just talk but they have no plans,” Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war MORE (D-Calif.) said at the time.