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Snap Hires Google Exec Oona King as First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

Snap continues to fill out the ranks of its revamped leadership team: The Snapchat parent tapped Oona King, most recently Google’s director of diversity strategy and a former member of British Parliament with the Labour Party, as its first VP of diversity and inclusion.

King, who starts at Snap on June 11, is also the first hire by Lara Sweet, the company’s newly appointed chief people officer who previously served as interim CFO and chief accounting officer.

According to Sweet, King’s hire is part of the company’s strategic goal of “ensuring Snap’s employee culture represents the diversity of our global users.”

“We’re confident [King] will help us make Snap a more diverse and inclusive company at all levels,” Sweet wrote in a memo to Snap staff.

To date Snap, unlike many tech-industry companies, has not publicly released a diversity report that breaks down employee composition by race and gender.

Snap has faced accusations of unequal treatment toward women and perpetuating a sexist culture. In 2018, Snap paid settlements to at least three women employees who were laid off and alleged that the company had unduly targeted female staffers in the job cuts, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to Snap, the decisions about layoffs “had absolutely nothing to do with gender” and said that male employees also received additional severance payments after negotiations. Previously, former Snap software engineer Shannon Lubetich said the company had a “pervasive sexist vibe,” according to a Cheddar report.

At Google, King was director of diversity strategy and prior to that was YouTube’s global director of diverse marketing. She also served as head of diversity and inclusion at the U.K.’s Channel 4 for seven years. Earlier in her career, in 1997 she became the second black woman elected to British Parliament and was an adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on issues of equality, diversity and faith. In 2011, King was appointed a life peer in the House of Lords as Baroness King of Bow; she took a leave of absence upon joining YouTube in 2016.

Over the past year, Snap has seen significant turnover in its executive ranks — coming as Snapchat’s user growth stagnated in the wake of a redesign of the messaging and media app that didn’t go over well. Co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel has had to rebuild the senior management after a series of high-level departures.

In addition to Sweet’s appointment as head of HR, Spiegel recently promoted finance executive Derek Andersen to the CFO role. Other senior execs who have joined Snap in the last several months include chief business officer Jeremi Gorman, former head of ad sales at Amazon; chief strategy officer Jared Grusd, former CEO of Huffington Post; and Kenny Mitchell as chief marketing officer.

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