Report Shows Facebook Isn’t Trying Hard Enough to Increase Diversity


Facebook released its annual diversity report on Thursday and, sadly, little has changed from last year.

52 percent of its US employees are white, 38 percent are Asian, 4 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are Black, while 67 percent of its global staff are male. New leadership hires did improve to 9 percent black, 5 percent Hispanic and 29 percent women, but the numbers were overall still quite poor. In a blog post, Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams said this is due to the lack of diversity in the tech pipeline. She states that appropriate representation “will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system,” and then said Facebook would pledge more money towards diversity programs. Several critics have since responded to this statement, saying that the problem lies not with the so-called pipeline, but within Facebook itself.

“The pipeline problem is demonstrably false,” said Leslie Miley, a Director for Engineering at Slack who left Twitter last year due to the company’s diversity issues. In an interview with Engadget, he said the issue lies in the company’s own internal hiring practices. Simply donating money to diversity programs isn’t enough, he said. “I think it’s a very poorly done PR job to gloss over the fact that while Facebook may be doing the right things externally, they’re not doing the right things internally.”

The problem isn’t unique to Facebook. Other Silicon Valley companies, like Google and Twitter, have recently reported poor diversity numbers too. Williams said in the statement that “only 1 in 4 US high schools teach computer science” and very few women and minorities have taken advanced placement computer science tests.

But while there is some truth to the lack of diversity in technical fields, the numbers still don’t add up. Recent studies show that Hispanics and Blacks make up around 6 to 8 percent of computer science graduates every year. But out of the number of employees that Facebook employs in technical roles, only 1 percent is Black and 3 percent is Hispanic. Further, the percentage of underrepresented minorities employed in non-technical fields at Facebook is pretty low too — 7 percent are Hispanic and 5 percent are Black.

“There are a ton of opportunities to increase demographic representation in tech companies with the people that already exist in the workforce,” said Joelle Emerson, a chief executive of Paradigm, a diversity consultancy, to USA Today. This sentiment was voiced repeatedly on Twitter with the hashtag #FBNoExcuses, which was created as a response to Facebook’s poor diversity report. Critics slammed the company for not trying hard enough and overlooking qualified candidates who don’t come from prestigious universities or fit within the status quo. Some pointed out that other tech companies, like Intel and Slack, have managed to increase their company diversity substantially, so Facebook’s excuses rang hollow.

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SOURCE: Nicole Lee