Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said it was a “wake-up call” when a female former employee sent an internal letter slamming the company’s bro-like culture.
Speaking to Recode journalist Kara Swisher on Tuesday, Spiegel also confirmed that his company hired scantily clad women dressed as deer to serve appetisers at a party last year, and described the mishap as “frustrating, to say the least.”
“I think people are going to make mistakes,” Spiegel said of the incident. “I was frustrated, to say the least, to see people dressed up as deer for a holiday party… because it’s also strange.”
Spiegel said the company did actually ask the women to leave, and said the fault lay with “someone on our events team.”
“She made a mistake and life goes on,” he said, adding it was important people could make mistakes and work and learn from them. He added that Snap had a younger workforce, and so the company should expect mistakes.
Earlier on Tuesday, Cheddar reported that Snap engineer Shannon Lubetich sent an email to 1,000 colleagues on her last day at the company, complaining about bias and a “pervading sexist vibe.”
Cheddar also reported that Snap had hired scantily clad women to dress up as deer at the firm’s summer party in Santa Monica last year. The deer costume was a reference to one of Snap’s best-known filters, which overlays the animal’s features onto the user’s face.
“That letter was a really good wake up call for us,” said Spiegel. “Obviously we’re constantly thinking about how to have the culture that we want and how to reinforce the values that we want.”
“We’re thinking about it even more because obviously the company is growing so fast, and so to take on that challenge of the company growing that quickly, hiring people that quickly and reinforcing the culture and values is really challenging.”
Spiegel said the company hired external consultants last year to identify issues within the firm, that it conducted an internal survey for employee feedback, and that it changed its promotion process. Lubetich had called attention to the firm’s lack of diversity, especially in upper management.
Spiegel added that aspects of the scandal showed that the firm’s internal HR processes were working. In one instance, Lubetich said she overheard former senior vice president of engineering, Tim Sehn, make a penis enlargement joke and complained about it to HR.
“HR had a conversation with him and said [it wasn’t] appropriate,” said Spiegel. “Ultimately that is the sign of the culture we want, where people are identifying problems and speaking up about them.”
You watch the full interview with Evan Spiegel here: