Facebook on Diversity: Slow Progress, More to Do

Facebook’s 2016 diversity update continued a familiar theme: slow progress and the understanding that more needs to be done.

Facebook’s 2016 diversity update continued a familiar theme: slow progress and the understanding that more needs to be done.

Maxine Williams, the social network’s global director of diversity, said in a Newsroom post that while Facebook’s senior leadership is currently 3 percent African American, 3 percent Hispanic and 27 percent female, its hires over the past 12 months have equaled 9 percent, 5 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Facebook also released LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) data for the first time, saying that 61 percent of its employees responded to a voluntary survey about sexual orientation and gender identity and, of that group, 7 percent identified themselves as LGBTQ.

As for what the company is doing to help speed the process of diversity, Williams noted that Facebook committed $15 million to Code.org, a nonprofit organization aimed at encouraging computer science education and teaching students how to code. She wrote:

Facebook’s five-year commitment will help Code.org to drive the development of curricula, public school teacher training and student skills building, particularly among traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering and computer science. It will give thousands of students across the country the access to computer science they deserve.

Aside from the Code.org commitment, Williams outlined Facebook’s short-term, medium-term and long-term plans:

  • Short term: The social network aims to build a diverse slate of candidates, as well as to ensure that those who make it through the process are given every opportunity to thrive.
  • Medium term: The company plans to continue to grow its Facebook University and Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) Lean In Circles program.
  • Longer term: Facebook will continue to invest in TechPrep, its online resources for parents, guardians and future programmers, which is available in both English and Spanish.

Williams concluded her blog post as follows:

While there is a lot of distance to cover in the short, medium and long term, we’re moving in the right direction.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s diversity efforts?

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