Facebook Mirrors Tech Industry’s Lack of Diversity
By VINDU GOEL
JUNE 25, 2014 8:42 PM
When it comes to the gender and ethnic diversity of its work force,Facebook‘s record is on par with the rest of Silicon Valley. It’s overwhelmingly male, white and Asian. And white men dominate the management ranks.
The social networking company, which has about 1.28 billion users globally and turned 10 years old this year, disclosed Wednesdaythat 31 percent of its 6,500 workers worldwide were women. The ratio is even more imbalanced among Facebook’s tech workforce, which is 85 percent male.
Breaking down demographics of Facebook employees.
Ethnicity (in U.S.)
3% TWO+ RACES
Source: Company report
In its United States operations — where the bulk of Facebook’s employees work — about 57 percent of the workers are white, 34 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and 3 percent of another race or two or more races.
As with other Silicon Valley companies, Facebook’s management is more white and male than its workforce at large. Globally, 77 percent of senior level employees are men. And in the United States, 74 percent of the company’s managers are white, 19 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, and 2 percent of another ethnicity or two or more races.
“As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Facebook’s global head of diversity, Maxine Williams, wrote in the blog post announcing the data. “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’s disclosure follows similar reports recently released by other major Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn. Older Silicon Valley companies, such as Intel, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, have also released their employment diversity data.
Unlike many of its fellow tech companies, Facebook declined to release its EEO-1 report, which provides a more detailed breakdown of its American workforce and must be filed annually with the United States government. (None of the companies reported racial and ethnic breakdowns of their global workforces, in part because some countries prohibit the collection of such information.)
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., the civil rights leader and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, had urged Facebook and other tech companies, including Google and eBay, to release their EEO-1 reports in personal pleas this spring at their annual shareholder meetings.
Facebook initially declined to release any of its diversity data, saying that it wanted to discuss the findings with employees first.
But once Google released its data in May, it put pressure on other companies to follow, Rev. Jackson said in an interview on Wednesday.
He said that Facebook’s partial data disclosure was “a step in the right direction” and will contribute to a broader discussion in Silicon Valley about how to increase the diversity of its workforce. EBay has not yet released its data, nor have other prominent tech companies such as Twitter.
While tech companies say their diversity challenges are largely due to the lack of women and minorities getting science and engineering degrees, Rev. Jackson said the industry’s diversity data show that it has done a poor job of recruiting black and Latino workers even for nontechnical jobs such as lawyers and marketers.
“We expect to have follow-up meetings to deal with the deficiency,” Rev. Jackson said. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also plans to host discussions on the issue at its annual conference in Chicago next week.