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Facebook has a diversity problem—just like Google and Yahoo
The company joins Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo—one of precious few tech companies with a female CEO—in revealing just how underrepresented women and people of color are in Silicon Valley, and the social media powerhouse sure isn’t bucking any trends with this latest report.
According to the company’s numbers, Facebook’s staff is predominantly male (69 percent) and predominantly white (57 percent), similar to the other so-called Silicon Valley meritocracies that have released diversity figures. Asians are better represented at Facebook (34 percent) than are African-Americans or Hispanics, who represent 2 and 4 percent of the workforce, respectively.
Men hold more than three-quarters of all senior-level positions, and nearly the same number of senior-level employees are white. Most of the tech jobs at Facebook likewise go to men (85 percent). And by virtue of their great numbers, men still hold the majority of non-tech jobs (53 percent), too—though there, at least, women are at least better represented.
All four companies have released these figures partly in response to a public plea from civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Sr. to put an end to inequality within the tech industry—a field notorious for its stunning phallocentrism and lack of ethnic diversity.
“These very visible companies, the fastest-growing industry in America and in the world today, have exclusive patterns relative to boards and C-suites and employment and IPOs,” Jackson told CNBC. “We think these companies should be vertically, horizontally reflective of their consumer base.”
Jackson is not wrong about tech’s diversity crisis. At Yahoo, 37 percent of the workforce is female, which gives it the slimmest leg up on Facebook. Still, the company still has a predominantly male executive suite, and only 15 percent of the company’s tech jobs go to women. Ninety percent of Yahoo’s total U.S. workforce is white or Asian. At Google, the numbers are even worse: Employees are 70 percent male and 61 percent white, and whites and Asians make up 91 percent of the workforce. LinkedIn just barely leads the pack with a workforce that’s “only” 61 percent male and 53 percent white.
The Facebook report, written by the company’s global head of diversity, Maxine Williams, offered a few platitudes about how “we have more work to do” and “we’ve begun to make progress,” and pointed to a number of programs targeted to selecting a more diverse pool of talent in the future. But we’ll believe it when we see it. So far, speaking out against Silicon Valley’s inherent sexism and lack of diversity hasn’t done much good.
Photo via Robert Scoble/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Rebecca Hiscott is the former assistant editor at Neurology Today and Brain & Life. Her work has also appeared in Mashable, Vanity Fair, and the New York Observer. She is now the London-based engagement editor for Kickstarter.