Facebook In Trouble Over Its Excuse On Poor Workplace Diversity

Facebook is in hot water after its diversity leader blamed the educational system for the difficulties the company faces when looking to hire a more diverse workforce.

Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity, Maxine Williams, recently stated that “appropriate representation in technology” depends on the people’s access to “necessary skills through the public education system.”

Her statement comes in the wake of Facebook releasing its most recent diversity stats. On the bright side, the stats show that women in leadership positions are up by 4 percent, reaching 27 percent. Other good news for inclusiveness is that the number of black employees in non-tech roles rose from 3 percent in the 2015 report to 5 percent in the recent one.

However, the broader picture shows that Facebook remains a male-dominated company.

As much as 67 percent of Facebook’s workforce is composed of men, out of which 83 percent are in tech-related jobs. Looking at senior leadership positions, 73 percent of them are occupied by men.

The numbers for racial distribution over Facebook’s employees show that whites make up 52 percent of U.S. employees of the company. Asians account for 38 percent, Hispanics for 4 percent and blacks for 2 percent. Bi or multi-racial employees amass to 3 percent.

Strictly measuring tech-related jobs, 48 percent are occupied by whites, 46 percent are Asian, 3 percent are Hispanic and 1 percent is black. Only 2 percent are filled by bi- or multi-racial employees.

“We continue to strive for greater change, we are encouraged by positive hiring trends,” Williams notes.

Not everyone agrees with Williams, though.

One of those disagreeing is Joelle Emerson, founder and CEO of Paradigm, a consulting company that advises technology companies on matters of inclusion and diversity.

“I am kind of shocked that Facebook would continue to perpetuate a narrative that has been so thoroughly disproven by the data,” Emerson points out.

Data show that there is a disproportion between the number of blacks and Hispanics that graduate in computer science and the number of employees in the tech industry belonging to those groups. To put it in perspective, about 9 percent of those who graduate from top engineering programs are black and Hispanic. However, the two ethnical groups’ representation in major tech enterprises is of about 5 percent.

Williams thinks that the high schools should put more effort into pushing computer science to students. According to her, only 25 percent of U.S. high schools have computer science in their curricula.

The social media company made actual steps to bridge the gap between gender and racial misrepresentation in the tech world.

Last year, Facebook started TechPrep. The online program offers resources in Spanish and English that are aimed to increase the appeal of computer sciences to parents and children from ethnical diverse groups. What is more, the social media company caters to the Facebook University (FBU) program, which is targeted at undergrads belonging to minorities.

Facebook backs programs for gender equality, as well. The company supports the Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) Lean In Circles program, which offers resources to college female students who demonstrate computer science inclinations.

Williams also mentions that her company encourages its recruiters to keep an open eye “for more diversity in the qualified talent pool.”

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