Internal training documents reveal how Facebook tackles diversity, bias, and discrimination
Workforce diversity is something that has been brought into sharp focus in recent months as companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook reveal the make-up of their staff. White, middleclass, male employees dominate the world of technology, and this is certainly the case at Facebook -- even if a redesigned icon was an attempt to bring women to the fore.
Now the social network is embarking on something of a PR campaign, desperate to prove that it is doing everything it can to develop as diverse a workplace as possible. Today Facebook publishes sections of its employee training program that aims to eradicate the 'unconscious bias' that leads to -- in Facebook's words -- 'black sounding names' getting fewer callbacks than 'white sounding names'.
Of course, Facebook does not present this material as a publicity campaign -- that would be counterproductive. Rather, it is in response to public demand: "Many people have asked if we’d be willing to share our training outside of Facebook". Facebook's internal training videos and course material are available to see "whether you want to customize the training for your organization, or simply understand your own biases" -- or, of course, you may just have an interest in how Facebook operates.
These are not typically dull corporate videos, but they do have a slightly glossy spin to them that makes them a little offputting, however well-intentioned they may be. In a series of clips -- replete with shots of ethnically diverse audiences -- we can see how the company suggests its workers handle stereotyping, perceptions and expectations based on race, gender, sexual orientation and so on. But what’s the real reason for sharing?
Our goal in publishing this portion of our managing bias training is to achieve broader recognition of the hidden biases we all hold, and to highlight ways to counteract bias in the workplace.
Check out the material for yourself and see what you think.