Facebook Faces ‘Challenges’ in Recruiting Black and Hispanic Execs

Minority representation in leadership roles is static at the social network

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies At Joint Senate Commerce/Judiciary Hearing
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Minorities are slowly but increasingly getting their foot in the door at Facebook, but the social network still faces “challenges” in recruiting Black and Hispanic employees for its top roles, the company said on Thursday.

Black employees account for only 1 percent of technical roles at Facebook, and 2 percent of leadership positions, with no year-over-year growth, according to the company’s fifth annual diversity report. Hispanic employees hold 3 percent of technical roles, and dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent year-over-year when it comes to leadership positions.

The dearth of minority women in leadership is even more stark, with black women holding only 6 of the 769 senior manager and executive positions, or less than 1 percent, USA Today reported. Black Americans make up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census data.

“We continue to have challenges recruiting black and Hispanic employees in technical roles and senior leadership,” said Maxine Williams, Facebook’s chief diversity officer, in the company’s report.

The social network is making strides in several areas, though, with women accounting for 36 percent of Facebook’s workforce — a 5 percent jump since 2014. Black and Hispanic workers inched upward from 2 percent to 4 percent, and 4 percent to 5 percent, respectively. Facebook has also tripled its number of black female employees since 2016.

To continue this growth, Williams said Facebook would be doubling down on its efforts to support programs that help teach coding to minorities in high school and college.

“The issue starts with early access,” Gretchen LeGrand, executive director of Code In The Schools, a Baltimore-based organization aiming to spread computer science education, told TheWrap. “If you come from a low-income, urban area, you are less likely to have been able to afford to go to a fancy private college with the best computer science program.”

Williams credited Facebook’s recruitment efforts and partnerships with several organizations, like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, for its increase in minority employees. But to further bolster its hiring of black and Hispanic workers, LeGrand suggested tech giants adopt a blind hiring process, which removes the opportunity for bias to creep into the hiring process.

Facebook — along with other Silicon Valley stalwarts — have been called out in the past for a lack of diversity. Jesse Jackson pressed CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting in May on the lack of minorities in leadership roles.

“The top 15 employees are white, and that does not represent a random — it represents some lack of intentionality to be inclusive,” said Jackson.

Zuckerberg acknowledged Jackson, before handing off to COO Sheryl Sandberg, who said the company was adopting the “diverse slate approach” when finding board members, requiring Facebook to consider candidates from “underrepresented backgrounds.”

“We agree with you that we need more diversity, it’s something we’re very committed to,” Sandberg told Jackson. “This is really codifying and making a public commitment to something we’re already doing.”