Facebook Can’t Figure Out How To Diversify Its Staff

Facebook Can’t Figure Out How To Diversify Its Staff

A new report from Wall Street Journal reveals that the system Facebook created two years ago to diversify its staff has been largely unsuccessful. The system awards each recruiter one point for any new hires in engineering who are white or Asian men. Initially, the company awarded each recruiter one-and-a-half points if they hired outside that demographic. When that wasn’t working, it was upped it to two points. Facebook employees told the Wall Street Journal that more points were supposed to lead to stronger performance reviews and possibly larger bonuses for recruiters.

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But even awarding recruiters two points for each diverse hire hasn’t had much of an effect on the company’s demographics. As of July 2015, 64.4 per cent of Facebook’s employees are white and Asian males, 26.5 per cent are white and Asian women, 4.3 per cent are Hispanic men and women and 1.7 per cent are Black. (The remaining 3.2 per cent falls into the “other” category.)

“All of us are lost with diversity,” a former Facebook recruiter told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re all rushing and sprinting to get diversity numbers higher and higher than other companies. It’s become a competitive number.”

In July, Facebook blamed its lack of diversity on the applicant pool. Facebook’s head of diversity Maxine Williams said, “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.”

But Joelle Emerson, chief executive at Paradigm, a diversity consultancy firm that works with companies like Facebook, told the Wall Street Journal that “there are more black and Hispanic computer-science graduates than are offered jobs with tech firms in the US”.

Facebook declined to comment on whether this points-based system is still in effect. The program might’ve failed because recruiters don’t actually have the power to hire any of the diverse candidates they find; hiring managers make those decisions. So maybe the company’s next diversity program should target the people actually doing the hiring. Just an idea.

[Wall Street Journal]