June 26, 2014
Facebook Looks To Diversify
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The social media giant Facebook claims to have more than a billion users worldwide, so there is likely a lot of diversity among those who connect through the social network. There is not the same amount of social diversity at the company however, and Facebook announced it has plans to change and become more diverse.
By job category, the numbers change significantly – 85 percent of Facebook's "tech" employees are male and 53 percent are white while 41 percent are Asian. At the "senior level" of the company, 77 percent of the company's employees are male and 74 percent are white.
"As these numbers show, we have more work to do – a lot more. But the good news is that we've begun to make progress," Maxine Williams, global head of diversity at Facebook, wrote on the company's official newsfeed on Wednesday. "Diversity is something that we're treating as everyone's responsibility at Facebook, and the challenge of finding qualified but underrepresented candidates is one that we're addressing as part of a strategic effort across Facebook. Since our strategic diversity team launched last year, we're already seeing improved new hire figures and lower attrition rates for underrepresented groups."
Facebook is not alone in being a bit of a "boy's club" either.
TechCrunch noted this week that Google is also 70 percent male, LinkedIn is 61 percent male – and even Yahoo (despite the fact that its CEO is female) is 62 percent male. By ethnicity Google has 61 percent white employees; Yahoo, which was co-founded by Taiwanese-born Jerry Yang, is 50 percent white; and LinkedIn is 53 percent white.
USA Today's Jessica Guynn reported that while technology remains a key driver of the US economy, the companies that make some of the most innovative products do not mirror the demographics of the United States in age, race or most notably gender.
"Clearly Facebook has to step up now and do something about these numbers. They have to lead, not follow," Stanford fellow Vivek Wadhwa, author of the upcoming book Innovating Women, told USA Today. "And not because it doesn't look good or that Sheryl Sandberg has been so vocal on this issue. Facebook has to do this for its own good and for its long-term growth."
Among Facebook's efforts to diversify include an announced partnership with the Anita Borg Institute and the National Center for Women & Information Technology to support the careers of technical women; expanding its "Facebook University" program that provides internships with greater efforts to fill those openings with underrepresented groups; and providing unconscious bias training for employees.
The social network will also partner with so-called "pipeline" programs including Girls Who Code, Code 2040, National Society of Black Engineers; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Management Leadership for Tomorrow; and collaboration with Yes We Code, which connects 100,000 low opportunity youths to programs to teach them skills in computer coding.
These efforts could certainly result in changes – not just at Facebook but through the US tech sector.
Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch, noted "Women have long been known to be underrepresented in tech, but the real issue these reports highlight is that non-white, non-Asian people are widely absent from the industry. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn are all 89% to 91% white and Asian. Blaming these companies isn't the answer, though. While hiring practices could certainly improve, they're dealing with systemic inequality. Women and non-Asian minorities are not getting the same encouragement in science, technology, engineering, and math that could prepare them for jobs at the tech giants. Without this education early, they aren't enrolling in computer science programs at top universities like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT where the big tech companies recruit."