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Report: Facebook’s Senior Engineers Block ‘Diversity’ Hires

A new report from Bloomberg suggests that Facebook failed to meet its own “diversity” goals because of the role of white and Asian engineers in final hiring decisions.

In 2015 Facebook, the report claims, began incentivizing recruiters to bring in women, blacks and Latinos, but final hiring decisions from senior engineers allowed their workplace diversity to stagnate in the single digit and teen percentage range for these demographics.

Facebook had heralded its own efforts to remedy what it identified as a diversity problem in its own workforce. It began incentivizing recruiters with “double points” to seek out engineering candidates that belonged to targeted demographic groups. The highly valuable points were energizing to recruiters, reported Bloomberg; however, when it came time to hire, “decision-makers were risk-averse, often declining the minority candidates.”

Two former recruiters identified “a group of about 20 to 30 highly-ranked engineering leaders,” of which about two at a time would make final hiring decisions on candidates considered in candidate review process meetings. Bloomberg reported that the engineering leaders were nearly exclusively white and Asian men.

The report highlights the company’s employment levels for three demographics in light of the recruiting initiative. “Facebook’s demographics in technology roles — which includes engineers and some other job categories – has barely changed, according to its yearly diversity reports. From 2015 to 2016, Facebook’s proportion of women in tech grew from 16 percent to 17 percent, and its proportion of black and Latino U.S. tech workers stayed flat at 1 and 3 percent, respectively,” the report states.

A Facebook spokesperson fired back in a statement to Bloomberg, “Once people begin interviewing at Facebook, we seek to ensure that our hiring teams are diverse. Our interviewers and those making hiring decisions go through our managing bias course and we remain acutely focused on improving our ability to hire people with different backgrounds and perspectives.”

“Nearly 100% of people at the manager level and above — and 75% of all US employees — have taken our Managing Bias class,” read a Facebook statement on diversity from July 2016. That statement also reported a hiring increase of these demographics that outpaced current percentages. As of June 30, 2016, in the U.S., Facebook employed 52 percent whites, 38 percent Asians, 4 percent Hispanics, 2 percent blacks, 3 percent who claimed two or more races, and 1 percent “other.” Men made up 67 percent of global employees.

Facebook posted its “Managing Bias” course videos along with its July 2016 report, insinuating that other companies wished to learn more from Facebook on diversity.

The Bloomberg report also cited tech company diversity consultant Joelle Emerson, who derided the engineering leaders’ practice of probing candidates based on where they attended college or whether they had worked for a top tech firm, characterizing it as “like the most baffling waste of time.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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