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Facebook sets goal to double its female workforce in five years

#YesWeCode: From The ‘Hood To Silicon Valley - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Facebook’s director of diversity, Maxine Williams, in 2015.
(Robert A Tobiansky / Getty Images)
Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. unveiled new diversity goals on Tuesday, including an effort to double the number of females it employs globally over the next five years and to double the number of black and Latino employees it has in the U.S.

The world’s largest social media company also wants half of its U.S. workforce to be from underrepresented groups by 2024.

“We envision a company where in five years, at least 50% of our workforce is made up of women, people who are black, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islanders, people with two or more ethnicities, people with disabilities and veterans,” Maxine Williams, Facebook’s chief diversity officer, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Facebook released the new targets alongside its annual diversity report, which details the ethnic and gender breakdown of its workforce. Williams said that reaching a target of 50% underrepresented employees in the U.S. was both a “stretch” and “ambitious.” About 43% of Facebook’s U.S. workers are currently from underrepresented groups, according to the report.

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Facebook also reported that 36.9% of its global employees are female — up from 36.3% a year ago. Blacks and Latinos now account for 9% of the workforce in the U.S. A year ago, that number was 8.4%. The company had almost 38,000 workers at the end of March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Facebook has 25 times more black female employees than it did in 2014, and the number of black male workers has increased tenfold in that time, Williams said in the blog. But black and Latino people hold just 5% of Facebook’s technical jobs in the U.S., up one percentage point from 2014.

The numbers underscore how big technology companies have struggled to diversify their workforces — especially in technical jobs dominated by white and Asian men.

“We started nine years into our journey,” said Williams, who joined Facebook in 2013. “That was nine years too late. We have experienced how hard it is to make up for that ground.”

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Facebook has put the most effort into diversifying its technical workforce, “so there is an irony and a frustration on our part that we haven’t been able to grow more,” she added.

Last November, a now-former employee went public with an internal blog post saying that Facebook had a “black people problem” and that the company wasn’t doing enough to support black employees or black users.

The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People also encouraged a Facebook boycott in late 2018 after it was learned that Russians using Facebook to influence the 2016 U.S. election heavily targeted African Americans.

Wagner writes for Bloomberg.


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