Jesse Jackson pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the social network’s perceived lack of diversity, while asking the opening question at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Palo Alto, California, on Thursday.
“Beyond the board, the C-suites, the top 15 employees are white, and that does not represent a random — it represents some lack of intentionality to be inclusive,” Jackson said during a Q&A. He then followed up his statement with a question on Facebook’s efforts to stop election manipulation.
Zuckerberg thanked Jackson for the question, saying “we appreciate your commitment as a shareholder in always coming to our meetings,” before deferring to COO Sheryl Sandberg on the company’s diversity efforts.
Sandberg announced that Facebook, in partnership with the Service Employees International Union, is officially adopting the “diverse slate approach” for appointing board members moving forward. The company had adopted that approach for its general workforce back in 2015, requiring managers 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.”
Jackson raised the same question at last year’s shareholder meeting, pointing to the company’s dearth of black, Latino and asian board members. “I hope you’re as disappointed in that lack of progress,” he said at the time.
Facebook’s latest diversity report showed the company’s workforce was 3 percent black and 5 percent Hispanic in 2017. Women made up 35 percent of the company’s employees.