Instacart to eliminate about 2,000 jobs and GitHub head of HR resigns – TechCrunch

by Joseph K. Clark

Hey, you all. You’ve just landed on Human Capital, the weekly newsletter detailing the latest in labor, diversity, and inclusion in tech. The week kicked off with GitHub apologizing to the person the company terminated for cautioning his employees about Nazis in D.C. on the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Later in the week, Google revoked corporate access from AI ethicist Margaret Mitchell in what some are saying is reminiscent of the company’s treatment of Dr. Timnit Gebru. Meanwhile, Instacart is making some changes to its platform that will result in job loss. Sign up below to get this in your email every Friday at 1 p.m. PT.

GitHub’s head of HR resigns; the company offers fired Jewish employees his job back.

A GitHub internal investigation revealed the company made “significant errors of judgment and procedure” in things of  Jewish employees who cautioned his coworkers about the presence of Nazis in the D.C. area on the day of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a blog post, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said the company’s head of HR took full responsibility for what happened and resigned yesterday. GitHub did not disclose the name of the person who left, but it’s widely known that Carrie Olesen was the chief human resources officer at GitHub.


GitHub said it has “reversed the decision to separate with the employee” and talked to his representative. “To the employee, we wish to say publicly: We sincerely apologize,” Brescia said in the blog post. However, the terminated employee previously told me he did not want his job back but instead some other form of reconciliation.

Google AI ethicist under investigation 

According to Axios, Google is investigating AI ethicist Margaret Mitchell for reportedly using automated scripts to find examples of mistreatment of Dr. Timnit Gebru. Gebru says she was fired from Google, while Google has maintained that she resigned. In a statement to Axios, Google said the company had locked Mitchell’s account:

Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account when they detect that the version is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. In this instance, yesterday, our systems detected that an account had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today.

The recently-formed Alphabet Workers Union said it was concerned by Mitchell’s suspension of corporate access: “Regardless of the outcome of the company’s investigation, the ongoing targeting of leaders in this organization calls into question Google’s commitment to ethics—in AI and their business practices. Many members of the Ethical AI team are AWU members, and our union recognizes the crucial work they do and stands in solidarity with them at this moment.”

Google’s Sundar Pichai to Meet with HBCU Leaders

According to CNN, at least five HBCU presidents are scheduled to meet with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker later this month to discuss recent allegations of racism and discrimination. Additionally, the goal of the meeting is to ensure HBCUs have a good relationship with Google and that the company offers a suitable environment for its students and graduates.


I’m finna tell yall why @Google fired me- the MOST successful diversity recruiter in their company’s history- with the receipts to support that statement.

— Real Abril? (@RealAbril) December 21, 2020

Amazon launches anti-union website

Ahead of Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama gearing up to vote on forming a union, Amazon launched an anti-union website. Called Do It Without Dues, the site aims to dissuade workers from voting to unionize.

Instacart plans to terminate nearly 2,000 jobs.

Vice reports that Instacart plans to lay off nearly 2,000 of its workers, including the ten workers from the Kroger-owned Mariano’s who unionized early last year. These workers are responsible for in-store shopping and packing of groceries.

According to Vice, ten workers were unionized with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1546 in Skokie, Illinois. However, according to Vice, they have yet to negotiate a contract with Instacart. Instacart notified the union of the planned changes earlier this week. In the letter, Instacart said it planned to stop using in-store shoppers at Kroger-owned stores, including the piano’s in Skokie, in Q1 and Q2 of this year, but no earlier than mid-March.

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