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Facebook recently revealed their 2019 Diversity Report and shared some of their progress since the report’s inception in 2014. The company shared in a post that since 2014, the number of black women at the company has grown by 25 times and the number of black men at the company has grown by 10 times. Facebook has also grown the number of women and underrepresented groups in leadership positions across the organization. Some additional initiatives that Facebook has implemented to increase diversity and inclusion includes a Military Skills Translator, which allows veteran candidates to better align their background with open roles at Facebook. 2.2% of the company’s workforce is comprised of veterans. Williams also shared that Facebook was voted as one of the best places to work for disability inclusion according to the Disability Equality Index. Facebook has also been named as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality. In addition, partnerships and investments in programs like The Align Program, ROAR, Women LEAD and LEAP, and Community Summits demonstrate that Facebook is making a concerted effort to foster more diversity and inclusion within the organization. According to Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global chief diversity officer, although the company has made strides within the last six years, they are not yet where they want to be. As far as the future, Facebook shared that their goal within the next five years is to have half of their workforce be comprised of people from underrepresented groups such as women, blacks, Hispanics, the differently-abled, and veterans, among others. What are three things that Facebook can do to help them achieve their diversity and inclusion goals moving forward?

1. Listen to underrepresented employees. Last year, a former manager at Facebook shared his thoughts regarding the company and how they don’t do enough to support their black employees. Instead of guessing what employees want, leadership within the company should create various avenues for employees to voice their concerns, provide anonymous feedback, tips and advice for not only how to improve the employee experience at the company, but also how to improve the customer experience. Several users of color have complained that Facebook is biased and subjective in regards to the content permitted on the platform. The 2019 Diversity Report for Facebook revealed that the company conducts Community Summits, led by employees, with the purpose of fostering a sense of community amongst different groups across the company. It is unclear whether Facebook currently allows employees to provide this anonymous feedback or not, however Facebook as well as any company in the tech space and beyond should implement this into the workplace to better understand both employee and customer needs.

2. Assess different components of diversity. While the hard numbers regarding the amount of employees represented from different groups is important, Facebook as well as other tech companies will benefit from doing a deeper dive into the statistics. For example, what are the retention rates for women in leadership roles? What about veterans and the differently-abled? An analysis of the diversity reports since 2014 will reveal that the numbers of underrepresented employees has grown in many areas, however it’s not quite clear what the average tenure rates for underrepresented employees actually is. Diversity and inclusion is not simply about the numbers; if a company is able to attract a diverse group of employees, however these same employees are not staying at the company then there is a more insidious problem that must be addressed. Assessing the diversity and inclusion numbers should include an analysis of the diversity climate as well as both quantitative and qualitative feedback from employees and management.

3. Implement a diversity-focused succession plan. The report revealed only slight growth of underrepresented groups in leadership and technical positions since last year’s report. If the leadership within an organization is not diverse, this can have many deleterious effects on the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Inclusion trickles down from the top, so it is essential that organizational leaders are diverse. Creating a succession plan aimed at developing diverse leaders from within the organization can be an effective strategy that can positively impact the number of diverse leaders within tech companies. According to Audrey Murrell, the author of Mentoring Diverse Leaders, mentorship programs are a great way to build a diverse leadership pipeline. In addition to mentorship, sponsorship plays a critical role in the career progression of female employees. Overall, a strong succession plan, focused on developing diverse leaders can increase the number of diverse employees in leadership positions.

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