Facebook is among many multi-million corporations that struggles with diversifying its workforce.
Last week, the corporation’s head of diversity blamed what those inside tech refer to as “the pipeline” for the company’s unimpressive percentage of Black and Hispanic employees. The numbers? Two percent and four percent respectively.
Forbes reports that Williams told the Wall Street Journal that “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.”
The lack of diversity if most apparent when it comes to Facebook’s tech-based jobs. Forty-eight percent of its employees are white while 46 percent are Asian. Black workers make up just 1 percent of this sector, while Hispanics account for 3 percent.
The company’s excuse was met with a wave of backlash from people of color and other underrepresented minorities struggling to gain equal footing in the technology field. In a post shared on social media, Dartmouth College student Kaya Thomas took Facebook and its Silicon Valley peers to task for focusing on whether potential employees are a “cultural fit.”
“I am a Black woman who will graduate with a computer science degree from Dartmouth College in less than a year,” she wrote. “There are thousands of other Black and Latinx who graduate every year with computer science Bachelor degrees. Most of us don’t get hired into the tech industry. So instead of putting in the effort to look for us, Facebook is ignoring the fact that we even exist.”
Longtime tech entrepreneur and investor Kathryn Finney says Facebook’s reasoning for its lack of diversity serves as further evidence that Silicon Valley’s firms don’t really care about diversity beyond lip service.
“They’ll give money to a coding program for kids, but just enough to show they kind of care,” she said. “The challenge for tech is this: black people are your customers. If you don’t figure this out, you’re going to have a big problem.”
Finney finds the importance placed on “culture fit” as particularly toxic, and feels that Silicon Valley is actively driving minority candidates away.
“What they’re really saying is, there aren’t enough Black and Hispanic graduates who fit in,” she said. “For us, there are things we value that aren’t valued by these companies. Sundays are not days to hang out. For some of us those are family days, or days we go to church. There’ll be these emails saying to meet in the park for Ultimate Frisbee at 1pm on a Sunday. The implication is, ‘you should be free.'”
For more on this topic, see the #FBNoExcuses hashtag on Twitter.