On Thursday, Facebook shared their growth in diversity for the last year. There hasn’t been much.
Numbers show that female employees at Facebook have increased one percent globally, and not at all for black and Hispanic employees. That’s pretty slow growth! Though there has been some increase in diversity in senior leadership:
Over the past few years, we have been working hard to increase diversity at Facebook through a variety of internal and external programs and partnerships. We still have a long way to go, but as we continue to strive for greater change, we are encouraged by positive hiring trends. For example, while our current representation in senior leadership is 3% Black, 3% Hispanic and 27% women, of new senior leadership hires at Facebook in the US over the last 12 months, 9% are Black, 5% are Hispanic and 29% are women.
They also offered U.S. employees an opportunity to fill out a voluntary survey on sexual orientation and gender identity. Of those asked, 61 percent responded, with 7 percent self-identifying as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender or asexual.
One notable statistic, is that of their tech employees, 48 percent are white with 46 percent listed as Asian. In senior management 71 percent are white and 21 percent are Asian, whereas most other identity categories are underrepresented in all hiring. So, what’s Facebook to do? Point at at how education doesn’t prepare minorities for positions in tech:
It has become clear that at the most fundamental level, appropriate representation in technology or any other industry will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system. Currently, only 1 in 4 US high schools teach computer science. In 2015, seven states had fewer than 10 girls take the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam and no girls took the exam in three states. No Black people took the exam in nine states including Mississippi where about 50% of high school graduates are Black, and 18 states had fewer than 10 Hispanics take the exam with another five states having no Hispanic AP Computer Science (CS) test takers. This has to change.
Facebook has announced a new attempt to close that gap before people even start applying to their company. They’re launching a five year $15 million partnership with Code.org to provide students opportunities to learn computer science and programming skills, much of it going towards training K-12 teachers so that they in turn can instruct kids. Global director of Diversity, Maxine Williams, told Mashable:
“There are millions of women and minorities in this country who are not getting the opportunities they deserve,” Williams said, referencing the number of women and people of color who are exposed to computer science at an early age.
She added that the company was prepared to take criticism for pointing out these broader challenges as an explanation for its slow progress in diversifying its workforce.
“At this stage, I’m prepared to do that,” she said. “I need people to realize how big the problem is so we can solve it together.”
Pointing at larger issues with how children are prepared for jobs in Silicon Valley and transparency on diversity statistics are useful steps in diversifying huge tech companies like Facebook. But there is still the issue of hostile work environments that discourage or lack support for minority workers. The numbers can’t explain that away.