Facebook has just released its diversity stats for the first time and revealed what most of us already knew. The social media giant is overwhelmingly white, with the majority of tech and senior roles dominated by males.
The data discloses that Facebook is 69 percent male worldwide and 57 percent white in the United States, where most of its employees are based.
Asians make up 34 percent of staff. But figures for Hispanics and African-Americans are dire – 4 percent and 2 percent respectively.
The most lucrative and sought-after jobs are even more skewed: Whites make up 73 percent of management ranks, and men dominate both technical (85 percent) and senior level (77 percent) categories.
“As these numbers show, we have more work to do — a lot more,” Facebook’s global head of diversity, Maxine Williams, wrote in a blogpost. “But the good news is that we’ve begun to make progress.”
“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.”
Facebook also pledges to work with other organizations working in the trenches to achieve more representative diversity goals.
The statistics come on the heels of similar diversity breakdown reports by Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn, all of which expose tech companies heavily skew towards male, white and Asian.
The reports are compiled as part of a data filed annually with the U.S. government. Companies are not legally required to make the information public.
Even so, after Google’s groundbreaking decision to disclose its diversity data, the Silicon Valley giant announced a partnership with the Kapor Center for Social Impact to address a lack of diversity in its workforce.
“For years, tech leaders have perpetuated the myth that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy,” said Freada Kapor Klein, co-chair for the California-based Kapor Center. “Once we recognize it as a myth, we can get down to the hard work of making the myth a reality.”
Mitch Kapor, co-chair of the Kapor Center, said diversifying the tech industry will also promote innovation.
“We find that entrepreneurs tend to solve problems based on their lived experience,” said Kapor. “If Silicon Valley represents a narrow slice of society, we end up with a narrow band of solutions.”
“The floodgates holding back the tech industry’s dismal diversity data are now wide open, and what we are finding is that women and people of color are not participants in our rapidly growing tech economy, “ said Allison Scott, Level Playing Field Institute Director of Research and Evaluation.
“Releasing the data is a critical first step,” said Scott. “Silicon Valley must look to invest in strategies to both fill the pipeline with diverse talent and ensure workplace culture and practices don’t force that talent to leak from the pipeline.”
Disparity in the highly competitive tech industry is even more lopsided when it comes to the representation of black women.
“The recent release of Facebook’s diversity figures paints a sobering but realistic picture of the state of African-Americans, women, and people of color in technology,” said Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit to introduce girls from underrepresented communities to computer programming.
“While the numbers are disappointing, this is an important step towards starting a meaningful and strategic conversation regarding the diversity challenges in the tech industry.”
For years, Silicon Valley firms have held back on sharing diversity records with the public. But in recent weeks, several companies led by Google released figures under the scrutiny of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. He appeared at the shareholder meetings of Facebook and Google to demand companies release the data.
It now seems inevitable there will be growing pressure on other major Silicon Valley companies to make company diversity data available to the public.
Originally published on June 29, 2014
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