Facebook's 2017 Diversity Report Shows Small Improvements

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Facebook is one of the tech firms leading the charge on creating more diverse workplaces, and even though doing so can be difficult, the marginal growth shown in Facebook’s latest diversity report shows that the company is trying. The proportion of Facebook employees who are Hispanic has gone up from four to five percent in the past year, and black workers have increased from two to three percent. Facebook said that its workforce is now 35 percent female, up from 33 percent last year, and that women accounted for 21 percent of all of its technical hires over the past year.

Facebook’s efforts at creating a diverse workplace are an integral part of the company’s image and philosophy. In a statement accompanying the diversity report, Facebook talks about some of the ways that it helps to foster diversity among its workforce. The Diverse Slate Approach is one such example that helps temper hiring managers to try to consider just as many candidates from marginalized groups as from mainstream groups for a given role. Employees are also put through a class meant to help them curb unconscious bias, which is publicly available. Facebook University is also helping to fuel diversity by giving extra coaching and mentorship early on to groups that are generally underrepresented in technology.

Trying to create a diverse working environment in tech is challenging for a wide variety of reasons, and Facebook demonstrated one of them in its latest report, revealing how women make up 27 percent of all fresh-from-school hires in engineering fields, and 19 percent of the tech world. The reasons for this vary between microcultures, but the simple fact is that women are still a marginalized group in the tech world in general, which makes it harder to find good talent for a given role that just happens to be female. The same can be said of other marginalized groups, such as people from certain racial and religious backgrounds. There are arguments both for and against initiatives like affirmative action or practices like Facebook’s Diverse Slate Approach, namely that good talent that just happens to be white and male, and that some candidates could be passed up for a lesser talent due to race, gender, or other innate factors, but a diversified perspective can help any company handle complex issues and fosters innovation by bringing together different sets of ideals and experiences.