It's not our fault we don't hire black people, says Facebook

It's because, you know, there aren't enough of them

Facebook has explained away another year of dreadful diversity figures by claiming that there simply aren't enough minorities available for it to hire.

Despite having been at the receiving end of years of criticism for its overwhelmingly white male workforce, the social media giant's latest figures show that only 4 per cent of its workers are Hispanic and just 2 per cent African-American. The percentage of women at the company crept up a single percentage point to 33 per cent.

Despite acknowledging that "we still have a long way to go," the company that is never wrong says it has been "working hard to increase diversity" but has been stymied by the fact that there just aren't enough qualified people that aren't white men.

And it said that in the most roundabout way imaginable: "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."

In the weirdest bit of data cherry-picking that we've seen for some time, Facebook noted that: "No Black people took the [Advanced Placement Computer Science exam] in nine states including Mississippi, where about 50 per cent of high school graduates are Black." There are of course 50 states in the United States – what about the other 41?

But fear not! Change is coming, and Facebook noted that of the new senior leadership hires in the past 12 months, 9 per cent are black, five per cent are Hispanic, and 29 per cent are women.

Which apart from the small increase in black hires – from 2 to 9 per cent – is a rounding error improvement in Hispanic and actually worse figures for women.

If all that wasn't bad enough, the most highly valued jobs at the company – tech jobs – provide even worse figures: just one per cent black, three per cent Hispanic and 17 per cent women.

Solutions

What is Facebook going to do about it? Is it going to tie workforce bonuses to achieving greater equality? Nope. Is it going to increase the finder's fee for people who bring women and minorities into its workforce? Nope. Is it going to set targets to be met by future dates? Nope. Is its CEO going to lead the charge and make it a priority? Nope.

What it is going to do is "continue to grow" the "Facebook University (FBU) program" that had 170 students last year! But from which Facebook, by its own admission, only hired a "handful."

And it is going to continue its "Computer Science and Engineering Lean In Circles program," which encourages women already in tech-related degree courses not to drop out. "Our hope is that with additional support, they will stay the course through graduation and we will experience an improvement in the number of women graduating with these critical skills," it notes.

And Facebook will give $15m to Code.org – a non-profit organization focussed on computer science that already has much, much larger backers – as well as "continue to invest" in an online resource called TechPrep that it reports breathlessly "has had over half a million unique visitors from all 50 states." (Quick suggestion: why not support Black Girls Code and solve several problems at once?)

"While there is a lot of distance to cover in the short, medium and long term, we're moving in the right direction," its post on its latest diversity report ends. Only a company that doesn't expect to make any progress would recognize it is going to be behind in the long term. ®


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