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Former Recruiters Say Facebook's Hiring Strategy Blocked Minority Candidates

A report by Bloomberg cites anonymous sources who say the social networking company's hiring process works against minority engineering candidates.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
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Facebook's recruiting strategy to add more women, black and Latino software engineers to its workforce has been stymied by an internal hiring process that gives a small committee of senior engineers veto power over promising candidates, Bloomberg reported in a story posted on Monday.

The social networking company -- like many other Silicon Valley companies -- has acknowledged that it needs to diversify its workforce and pledged to do better. Its recruiters were incentivized to find promising women, black and Latino candidates through a points system in they received double points for "diversity hires"--someone who was not white, male or Asian, former Facebook recruiters who asked to remain anonymous told Bloomberg. Recruiters spent hours each week reviewing promising minority candidates and assigned them Facebook "buddies" of similar demographics to make them feel welcome during on-site interviews, they said.  

However, a small committee of hiring managers made up nearly entirely of white or Asian men often assessed candidates on traditional metrics such as schools attended, whether they had worked for another prominent tech firm or if current employees could vouch for them, the former recruiters said.

Two former recruiters told Bloomberg that getting diversity candidates hired at Facebook proved so frustrating that many recruiters stopped trying and went back to their usual strategies.

Assessing candidates on factors such as schools attended or their connections at the company can work against minority candidates, diversity consultant Joelle Emerson told Bloomberg. Tech firms in Silicon Valley often pressure recruiters to bring in diverse candidates without applying similar pressure to those making the final hiring decisions, she said. "It's harder to think about changing a broader process that a company has been using for maybe 10 years."

In a statement provided to Bloomberg, Facebook said it "recruits from hundreds of schools and employers from all over the world, and most people hired at Facebook do not come through referrals from anyone at the company. 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 from different backgrounds and perspectives."

In its annual diversity report last year, Facebook revealed that its progress in diversifying its workforce has been slow, with the percentage of U.S. employees who are black or Hispanic (2 percent and 4 percent, respectively) remaining essentially unchanged in 2015 from the previous year and the percentage of women employees increasing by only a single percentage point, to 33 percent. When it comes to technical workers (including those in engineering roles), only 1 percent of employees are black, 3 percent are Hispanic and 17 percent are women. In conjunction with the release of its annual report, Facebook announced a new five-year, $15 million partnership with Code.org, a nonprofit organization that helps under-represented minorities learn programming and computer science skills in an effort to build a bigger pipeline of diverse talent, Mashable reported.

Facebook is far from the only Silicon Valley company that's struggling to hire more minority candidates: Google >, for example, acknowledged in its own report last year that it had made virtually no progress in increasing the number of its black and Hispanic employees in 2015.

 

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