In case you weren’t in the know, Facebook and Google have entire departments dedicated to diversity. Seriously! It’s something we only became aware of recently, and it seems the timing has never been better to address the issue of the lack of female and minority representations at such large tech companies.
In a blog post written by Facebook’s Global Head of Diversity Maxine Willianms, she wrote about recent study results which showed that world’s most popular online communication site has a major problem when it comes to representing diversity and gender balance. This is the first time Facebook has ever released data about diversity in the company to the public.
Basically the figures show the majority of people working at Facebook are either white or Asian men. On a positive note, the company says they are dedicated to changing this.
“At Facebook, diversity is essential to achieving our mission. We build products to connect the world, and this means we need a team that understands and reflects many different communities, backgrounds and cultures,” writes Maxine.
“We’re serious about building a workplace that reflects a broad range of experience, thought, geography, age, background, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture and many other characteristics.”
“We have more work to do – a lot more. But the good news is that we’ve begun to make progress. Diversity is something that we’re treating as everyone’s responsibility at Facebook, and the challenge of finding qualified but underrepresented candidates is one that we’re addressing as part of a strategic effort across Facebook.”
The Facebook Diversity team only launched in 2013, and already they want to make a huge difference behind the scenes. They will be partnering with organizations like Girls Who Code, National Center for Women & Information Technology, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and Yes We Code to implement programs and initiatives that give formerly underrepresented communities the chance to be part of the fastest growing industry in the US today.
The push for more women to get excited about and interested in STEM careers is an important one. Google just launched the ‘Made with Code‘ campaign for girls, and have also announced they are offering free coding lessons to women and minorities as part of the $50 million dollar initiative, in a bid to tackle the same diversity problem that dogs many large tech companies.
The world’s most popular search engine also recently released a diversity report in May stating only 30% of its employees are women, while African-Americans and Hispanics only comprised 1 and 2% of Google’s tech employees, respectively. They too acknowledged in their report that they “have much work to do”.
According to the US Department of Labor, only 20% of software developers are women, and only 12% of computer science degrees go to women. Megan Smith, vice president of Google’s X division said it’s not about feeling guilty or sad when it comes to these dismal stats, it’s about doing something about them.
Over in Europe, Facebook’s EU Vice President Nicole Mendelsohn attended Fortune’s World Most Powerful Women summit to talk about the issue and made an important point about deep-rooted cultural barriers were preventing girls and young women moving into key positions in business and politics.
She also went on to say why representation of women in the tech landscape is important, if we ever expect to see the numbers even out in the next generation.
“Boys are told they can be whatever they want to be, and they see role models for that,” she said. “If you look at the role models girls see in the world today, they are not the same. On the whole they are not big business people because there aren’t enough women at the top of companies.”
Nicole made mention of the Sheryl Sandberg-led ‘Ban Bossy’ campaign which aims to break down gender stereotypes from an early age and encourage leadership skills in young girls.
The numbers in both Facebook and Google’s diversity reports may be a little depressing, but the public accountability they have shown to evening out the score and creating better representation is encouraging. Being two of the biggest tech brands on the planet, it is important they set an example for the rest of the industry. Yes, it is still mainly a male-dominated world, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
If women are allowed to vote, fly planes, be CEO’s and become leaders of countries, there is no reason why we can’t be a prominent presence in technology. Here’s hoping the 2015 diversity reports from Facebook, Google and all the other companies who decide to follow suit will offer more promising statistics.