Facebook Vows to Manage Unconscious Bias

Managing Bias

Facebook did something unexpected this week. It published a portion of its Managing Unconscious Bias Training Program for all to use and learn from. Facebook is not the first company to develop and implement an unconscious bias training curriculum, nor is it the first publicly shared presentation on the subject, but it is the first of silicon valley’s tech giants to publish its training curriculum. Is this a step in the right direction or distraction from the fact that it hired only 7 black women since the release of its first diversity report?

A little background

Tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo have been under increased scrutiny since releasing their diversity numbers in 2014. The numbers paint a dismal and frustrating picture of the racial and gender makeup of these companies. In Facebook’s latest report, it revealed that 68% of employees are male, 32% are female, 55% white, 36% Asian, 4% Hispanic and 2% black – completely unacceptable considering the makeup of the Facebook audience. By sharing its training resources, Facebook hopes to signal that it’s taking the issue of diversity seriously.

The simplified scoop

On the one hand, we can commend Facebook for showing it’s not only willing to develop this curriculum, but is also willing to share it with other companies who don’t have the time and resources to develop their own. On the other hand – talk is cheap. Issues still remain to be addressed like – even with the development of a training program, is it enough to overcome the natural biases that seep into the hiring process? Facebook has repeatedly promised that it wants its internal workforce to reflect the diversity of its users. We need to hold it accountable for this initiative and rightfully expect to see growth above and beyond 0-1% in next year’s diversity report.

“Diverse teams have better results, so this is not only the right thing to do – it’s also good for our business.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer

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