Former Chan Zuckerberg Initiative employee files racial bias lawsuit

A former employee at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has filed a racial discrimination complaint, alleging that the philanthropic organisation “underpaid and under-promoted Black staff members”, at a time when Facebook has launched several initiatives to support Black-owned initiatives.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a foundation established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Raymond Holgado, who worked for CZI between 2018 and mid-2020, wrote on Medium that he has filed a racial discrimination claim against the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for racial bias and systemic discrimination at CZI.

“Despite its social justice rhetoric, CZI is not a welcoming environment for Black employees. Black employees are underpaid, undervalued, denied growth opportunities, and marginalized,” Holgado wrote.

“Black employees who want to advance within the organization are shut down and labeled as too assertive or aggressive, while non-Black employees are favored and encouraged”.

When Black employees have communicated these concerns to CZI leadership, CZI has responded defensively and failed to address the underlying issues. CZI has utterly failed to “build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future” for its Black employees.

In a statement to The Verge, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative disputed the claims.

“While we take any allegation of discrimination seriously and will do so here, this former employee’s specific allegations were previously raised internally, independently investigated, and found to be unsubstantiated,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committed to fair treatment, access, and advancement for all members of the team. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, full stop.”

The CZI was founded in 2015 by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.