Rupert Neate, Guardian, June 25, 2015
Facebook is still dominated by white men despite Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated promise to get serious about building a workforce that better reflects the diversity of its 1.4 billion global users.
In its diversity report released on Thursday the social network company revealed that more than half of its US staff are white, with the proportion dropping slightly from 57% to 55%. The proportion of Asian employees increased by 2% to 36%, but the shares of Hispanic and black people or those of “two or more races” remained flat at 4%, 2% and 3% respectively.
Facebook’s senior leadership is even more homogenous, with 73% of the most important positions filled by white people.
The company did not provide a breakdown of the exact numbers of people of different ethnicities in different ranks at the firm. It is required to do so by US law, but a spokeswoman said there is a lag in filling the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) report.
The most recent EEO filing available shows Facebook hired an additional seven black people out of an overall headcount increase of 1,231 in 2013. At that time Facebook employed just 45 black staff out of a total US workforce of 4,263. Facebook’s black female headcount increased by just one person over 2013 to 11, and the number of black men increased by six to 34. There were no black people in any executive or senior management positions.
Over the same period the company’s white employee headcount increased by 695. There were 125 white people holding executive and senior management positions at the firm.
The spokeswoman was unable to say when it would file its 2014 EEO report.
Facebook also made little progress increasing the proportion of female employees, 68% of its global employees are male – a decrease of 1%. Among its employees working on its core technology 84% are male, down from 85% last year.
The slow progress on improving diversity comes despite Zuckerberg repeatedly promising to make the company’s employees better reflect the identities of its users. When Facebook released its first diversity report Maxine Williams, its global head of diversity, said: “At Facebook, diversity is essential to achieving our mission.
“We need a team that understands and reflects many different communities, backgrounds and cultures. Research also shows that diverse teams are better at solving complex problems and enjoy more dynamic workplaces. So at Facebook we’re serious about building a workplace that reflects a broad range of experience, thought, geography, age, background, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture and many other characteristics.”
In the latest diversity report Williams admitted that “it’s clear to all of us that we still aren’t where we want to be”.
“There’s more work to do. We remain deeply committed to building a workplace that reflects a broad range of experience, thought, geography, age, background, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture and many other characteristics,” she said. It’s a big task, one that will take time to achieve, but our whole company continues to embrace this challenge.”
In May Zuckerberg said: “We have the same talent bar for everyone. But we want to find a disproportionate number of candidates who are women and minorities.”
He has also said that there is “just so much research that shows that diverse teams perform better at anything you’re trying to do”.
“It’s this problem because it’s not even clear where you would start attacking it. You need to start earlier in the funnel so that girls don’t self-select out of doing computer science education, but at the same time, one of the big reasons why today we have this issue is that there aren’t a lot of women in the field today.”