Facebook reported Wednesday a change in its diversity numbers for Hispanic and black employees, a first since the company began publicly releasing the data in 2014.
The company’s 2017 diversity report showed a 1 percentage point increase in representation for both Hispanic and black employees, from 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively ― but the change reflects growth only among non-technical U.S. workers.
The new data is just slightly more encouraging for women, who rose from 33 percent to 35 percent, globally, and from 17 percent to 19 percent among its technical workers, those whose roles are related to math, engineering or science.
The growth in Facebook’s annual diversity data is minimal, at best, but the company’s global director of diversity, Maxine Williams, is far from discouraged by the slow progress despite the significant amount of time, money and energy invested in the effort over the years.
“We do want to do more,” Williams told HuffPost on Tuesday. “It’s true, I would love to see much more. I would also say that it should not be disregarded when you see those percentages, particularly on a growing base, because it means the hiring of those underrepresented groups has to outpace the hiring of the majority groups. That is a very challenging thing given that you inherit a lot of stuff from society.”
She added that while not trying to put the blame on society, she feels issues like the low number of women in computer science majors make it difficult for Facebook to increase their female workforce due to the “percentage of people graduating with the skills we need.” Still, data has shown that more Hispanic and black students are majoring in computer science and engineering than are being hired.
Williams says external obstacles have motivated the company to look internally for solutions, and she hopes that the small growth reported this year and all the company’s efforts will send the right message to underrepresented candidates looking to work at Facebook.
“That is what I hope comes out of any positivity around seeing some change, is that people will know how desperately we want them here, how much we believe that they will add value to us and how much we believe that we are at a disadvantage now for not having more of them,” Williams said. “So we are putting everything behind trying to tell that story so that more people come because, yes, we want more as well and we are trying as hard as we can to do that.”