Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: Former Employee Sues Company for Racial Discrimination

Claimant Raymond Holgado, Black, sued Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for racial discrimination he experienced during his time with CZI. Holgado worked from September 2018 until August 2020.

On his Medium page, Holgado details all kinds of discrimination he endured. The company paid him less than non-POC (Person of Color) colleagues who have similar work experience and often denied his promotion. 

"Despite its social justice rhetoric, CZI is not a welcoming environment for Black employees," said Holgado, calling the racial abuse a 'systematic' concern inside the company. 

When such complaints were presented to the leaders, they reacted defensively and failed to address the issue. Holgado details that he had met with Priscilla Chan, the founder, to raise awareness of the case. According to him, Chan responded negatively to the idea of hiring a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) professional, and instead, she hired "a more junior individual for the role."

"This patronizing comment told me all I needed to know about my employer and confirmed the adage: A fish rots from the head," Holdago wrote.

Holgado filed the complaint to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in California on November 9. 

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Response

CZI has denied the accusation, although they claimed that they always take such allegation of discrimination seriously.

In a statement to The Verge and Tech Crunch, CZI called the concerns' unsubstantiated,' and it had been 'internally and independently investigated.'

Furthermore, the charity organization states that it holds fair treatment for all the team members regarding their skin color, and it does not tolerate any discrimination. 

Either way, things are not looking so great at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Ironically, such a charitable organization with social justice rhetoric fails to emphasize what 'diversity' actually means. 

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Not the First Time

Holgado's experience is one tiny drop on the ocean full of systemic racial injustice in the philanthropic organization's body worth $80 billion. 

Vox reported last June that 74 employees at CZI called out the organization for its failure to combat the system. They demanded 12 points to change philanthropy into a more inclusive effort and be a safe space for people from every color and different walks of life. They bravely and blatantly attach their names on the document for the public, no matter what the consequence might be. 

"We, the signatories of this letter, are calling for direct action," the letter ends. "Show us you're listening. Take decisive action now."

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC is a charitable and philanthropic organization, formed in 2015 by Priscilla Chan and his husband and Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg. It is one of the most funded philanthropy organizations in the world. 

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