Facebook Faces Diversity Deficit: 'We Aren't Where We'd Like to Be'

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | August 3, 2017 | 2:23 PM EDT

Facebook falls short of its diversity, inclusion goals.

“We aren’t where we’d like to be,” Facebook said Wednesday in a report on the lack of diversity of its staff.

“But we’re encouraged that over the past year, representation for people from underrepresented groups at Facebook has increased,” the company added in its latest “Diversity Update,” pointing to slight gains in the proportion of its staff who are women or minorities.

Despite the meager gains of the past year in its efforts to build “a more diverse, inclusive workforce” still leave Facebook’s staff behind in its employment of females and minorities, compared to their overall representation in the U.S. workforce:

  • “Number of women has risen from 33% to 35%” (vs. 47% of U.S. workforce)
  • “Number of women in tech has increased from 17% to 19%”
  • “Women now make up 27% of all new graduate hires in engineering”
  • “Women now make up 21% of all new technical hires at Facebook.”
  • “Representation of Hispanics up from 4% to 5%” (U.S. staff) (vs. 16% of U.S. workforce)
  • “Black people” inched up from 2% to 3% of Facebook’s U.S. staff (vs. 12% of U.S. workforce)

Women hold only 28% of Facebook’s "senior leadership" positions, while Blacks and Hispanics comprise only 3% of senior staff, according to Facebook’s demographic analysis.

In May, The Wall Street Journal reported on claims on gender bias at Facebook:

“Analysis found female engineers received 35% more rejections of their code than men.”

“Last year, a longtime engineer at Facebook Inc. gathered data that revealed a controversial finding: Code written by women was rejected much more frequently than code written by their male colleagues, according to people familiar with the matter and screenshots of internal discussions viewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

To overcome its lack of desired diversity, Facebook has created a host of policies, classes, workshops, and events – such as last year’s Black Leadership Day, which it describes as “a full day of programming for everyone in our Black community designed to empower, inspire, and give people the tools to lead with confidence.”

Facebook has also instituted a “Diverse Slate Approach,” which “sets the expectation that hiring managers will consider candidates from underrepresented backgrounds when interviewing for an open position.”

Diversity and inclusiveness aren’t the only issues facing Facebook, however. Both CNBC and The Guardian report that the company’s tech workers are having trouble making ends meet on their six-figure Facebook salaries, due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area. So much so, that they’ve even asked Facebook Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to help them pay their rent.