Facebook Reports Small Improvement in Diversity of Workforce

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Facebook Inc.’s latest diversity numbers show that the company is still mostly white and male, underscoring the need for initiatives such as the requirement that at least one minority candidate be considered for open positions.

The workforce at the world’s largest social network is 68 percent male, compared with 69 percent a year earlier, Facebook said on its website Thursday. The number of white employees fell only slightly, to 55 percent from 57 percent. Facebook has more than 10,000 staff.

Silicon Valley has been under pressure to increase the number of women and minorities among technology workers. The issue intensified a year ago, when Google Inc. published data showing that it lagged behind national averages. The dearth of female and minority engineers, startup founders and business leaders has long been a sore point for female executives including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“While we have achieved positive movement over the last year, it’s clear to all of us that we still aren’t where we want to be,” Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global director of diversity, said in a statement. “There’s more work to do.”

Facebook’s gender and ethnicity figures are broadly in line with other tech giants. Women made up about 30 percent to 35 percent of employees in industries related to computers and software development in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the broader population, about half of the U.S. workforce are women.

Rooney Rule

The company indicated earlier this month that the data would show only modest improvement.

The policy adopted by Facebook to consider at least one minority candidate is similar to the “Rooney Rule” the NFL used to increase diversity of the teams’ coaching staff. The rule went into effect in some Facebook departments in the past few months, a person familiar with the matter has said. If it helps increase the presence of people who are black, Latino or otherwise minorities, it will be implemented at the social network widely.

Facebook is also working with universities and students to attract more diverse talent and teaching managers about unconscious bias to address the issue.

While 32 percent of Facebook’s workforce are women, they outnumber men in non-technical positions, according to the company. Only 16 percent of the company’s tech jobs and 23 percent of its senior leadership roles were held by women, according to figures released by Facebook.

In terms of ethnicity, Facebook remains a workplace dominated by white and Asian employees, which together make up 91 percent of the company. Blacks, which were 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2014, were the most under-represented minority on Facebook’s payroll, making up only 2 percent of the company’s workforce and holding 1 percent of tech jobs.

“Having a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do -- it’s the smart thing to do for our business,” Williams said.