Facebook has provided an update on its efforts to maximize diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally, through a range of initiatives and projects.
And according to the data, it has made progress on virtually all fronts, despite the additional challenges of the pandemic.
As per Facebook:
"Over the last year, we’ve seen growth in underrepresented communities at Facebook. Today, more than 21% of our non-technical employees identify as Black or Hispanic. We’re also proud to report that we had our most diverse intern class ever in 2021, with 44.0% women globally and 20.4% from underrepresented minority communities in the US (Black and Latinx). This year, 4.7% of our US-based employees identify as people with disabilities, and 2.4% identify as veterans. Our LGBTQ+ community makes up 10.6% of our US-based workforce."
Facebook also says that it's seen a 38.2% increase in Black leaders, due to strong recruiting, and an increased focus on retaining top talent across the company.
"As the company grows, we’ll work to maintain this representation of Black employees in leadership. We will also continue striving for an overall 30% increase in representation of people of color in the US, including Asian and Hispanic people, in leadership roles."
But as you can see here, it still has a way to go - because while a 38% increase in Black leaders is important, in real terms, Black leaders still only make up a small fraction Facebook's global workforce.
The same is true for women, which is the only element where Facebook actually saw a year-on-year decline in overall staffing share (37% in 2020 vs 36.7% in 2021).
Any progress on each of these fronts is a positive, but it is also worth putting the topline stats into relevant context, and seeing where Facebook is currently placed, from an overall perspective. Given the platform's role in how people now connect around the world, it needs more equality, to maximize representation - especially in regards to policy decisions and development.
In terms of external projects, Facebook highlights its new Responsible Innovation Principles for AR and VR, which will aim to combat potential bias in these elements. Machine learning bias is a significant concern, because if these systems are built on data sets that are already inherently biased, that will only further entrench the same into new systems, and potentially reinforce existing traits.
Facebook also notes that it's introduced tools for businesses to self-identify as Black-owned on both Facebook and Instagram, making it easier for people to find and support them, while it also says that it's achieved its three year goal to reach 1 million members of the Black community, and 1 million members of the Hispanic and Latinx communities, through its Facebook Elevate digital skills" training program.
"We reached our goal thanks to a diverse internal team that worked quickly to engage members of these communities. We are also on track to reach our goal of giving 100,000 scholarships to Black students working toward digital skills certifications through our Facebook Blueprint program."
These are positive developments, particularly considering the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on these communities. Facebook does have some way to go, as noted, in addressing its internal staffing balance, and again, the focus on addressing bias in advanced learning systems is also key. But Facebook overall is progressing, and making steady progress towards building a more universal platform.
Which, at Facebook's size and influence, is critical, especially as it continues to branch into new regions.
You can check out Facebook's full Diversity and Inclusion report here.