NYT exposes allegations of "racist or discriminatory" therapy of Coinbase staff
The New York Times published a review of Coinbase's internal diversity guidelines. Several former employees complain of "racist or discriminatory" treatment.
Journalist Nathaniel Popper's report released on Friday is based on comments from 23 current and former Coinbase employees. It paints the picture of a company that "has long struggled with the management of black employees".
Coinbase, becoming aware of a possible story during the fact-checking process, attempted to tell the story from the beginning on Wednesday night. The company sent an email to its employees and posted the email in a blog post to alert the public to an impending "negative story".
"Given that this story can be read by your friends, family, and professional contacts, we wanted to give everyone a heads-up and provide important context," the statement said. In particular, it expressed the company's belief that the NYT's report would "likely" quote three former Coinbase employees and a former contractor. This turned out to be an underestimation.
The NYT's report describes several cases of alleged discriminatory behavior, ranging from racial stereotypes to inappropriate practices in hiring and promoting black workers. The Times reports that at least 11 former employees have contacted Human Resources or their managers about such incidents.
Like the larger tech industry, crypto has come under fire for lack of diversity. Robert Greenfield, CEO of Emerging Impact, wrote in an opinion piece for CoinDesk entitled "The crypto community must stand up and fight racism": "The crypto community conveniently chooses which aspects of society it wants to change."
"Most people of color who work in tech know that there is a diversity problem," a former Coinbase employee Alysa Butler said in Popper's article. "But I've never seen anything like Coinbase."
Kim Milosevich, a Coinbase spokesman, told the New York Times the company "does not tolerate any race, gender or any other form of discrimination". She is also quoted as saying: "All discrimination claims are taken very seriously, investigated both internally and by third parties, and appropriate measures are taken."
Coinbase, an $ 8 billion exchange, hit the headlines in September after CEO Brian Armstrong published an open letter declaring Coinbase an "apolitical" and "mission-driven" company with an understanding that social justice issues were raised should not be discussed during corporate hours or channels.
Days later, the company offered a severance package to all employees who disagreed with Armstrong's mission statement. By October 14, 5% of Coinbase employees had left the company.
Coinbase is one of the most valuable and public exchanges for crypto. The company is reportedly considering a public offering of shares in 2021.