back to article It's not our fault we don't hire black people, says Facebook

Facebook has explained away another year of dreadful diversity figures by claiming that there simply aren't enough minorities available for it to hire. Despite having been at the receiving end of years of criticism for its overwhelmingly white male workforce, the social media giant's latest figures show that only 4 per cent of …

  1. David 132 Silver badge

    So what you're saying is...

    ...that Facebook should go out of their way to hire more non-white people, in other words: hire more people based entirely on the colour of their skin?

    Hmm, OK.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: So what you're saying is...

      "hire more people based entirely on the colour of their skin?"

      it's what the 'affirmative action' weenies on "the left" would say, yeah, but Faceb[itch,ook] isn't practicing the kind of thing it probably (read: no doubt) preaches. Instead, they appear to be hiring on the basis of JOB SKILLS, which is what ANY responsible company would do (normally).

      Perhaps Charles Barkley's take on "things of this nature" is the CORRECT explanation:

      And if he's right, the relative lack of 'minority employees' at FB is mostly "self-inflicted", i.e. "not whitey's fault" nor outright racial discrimination in hiring.

      just sayin'

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: So what you're saying is...

        Whether it's right or not, I can't say. But Charles Barkleys piece sort of reminds me what Terry Pratchett wrote about the crab bucket.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: So what you're saying is...

      Reminds me of an interview I had about 7 years ago. The CTO of the company smiled and told me: We have an openly discriminatory hiring policy. We discriminate and we are proud of it. We discriminate against STUPID people.

      1. Dwarf

        Re: So what you're saying is...

        @Voland's Right Hand

        Reminds me of a time when my son was at junior school and they were talking about allergies. The teacher asked if there were any allergies in anyone's families.

        My son responded that I am allergic to stupid people - which I am !

        Even though I had indeed said about this to my son, apparently that wasn't the politically correct answer and we had an interesting discussion at dinner that night.

        Seriously though, I wonder when people are going to stop trying to do everything with statistics and start focusing on what matters - capability of the person to do the job well and act as part of the single team. It shouldn't matter if they are left handed, have ginger hair; are short; tall ; have x colour skin, etc.

        However, it does matter that they speak the same language as the rest of the team and have a common understanding of what needs doing and the appropriate skills to do it, this in turn means you can rely on the rest of the team to get the job done well.

    3. Rob Gr

      Re: So what you're saying is...

      "...that Facebook should go out of their way to hire more non-white people, in other words: hire more people based entirely on the colour of their skin?"

      The issue is that they already are - just it is easier to get a job with them if your skin is white.

      I refer you to an excellent post on this issue by Aral Balkan:

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        re:just it is easier to get a job with them if your skin is white

        Not sure this is what they are saying.

        Whether that is the underlying cause is another matter, and fundamentally applies everywhere, not just Facebook.

        Diversity policies go against sound business practice. If you have to hire less competent people because of their skin colour, that's still discriminatory (just in a way that is inexplicably ok to those insisting on diversity policies). A business full of idiots is a business full of idiots. Doesn't matter that diversity regs have been met; that business is doomed.

        The devil in the detail is surely the comp-sci graduate racial/gender distributions, and the applicant racial/gender distribution. If 97% of graduates/applicants are white males, well... doesn't take a genius to work out the hiring distribution will be predominantly white males.

        Yet if 97% of graduates/applicants were minorities/female, would we even be having this discussion? Would Facebook get called out on it? I doubt it, because that doesn't fit the PC brigade agenda.

        Hiring decisions should always and only be about competence, never about skin colour, gender, sexuality, age or any other bullshit. Diversity policies be damned.

        If you're best for the job I will hire you.

        If you aren't the best for the job, I won't hire you. End of. Entirely based on competence. PC brigade can bite me.

        1. Keith Glass

          Re: re:just it is easier to get a job with them if your skin is white

          Jimmy2Cows noted:

          A business full of idiots is a business full of idiots.

          Well, that certainly explains a great deal about Fecesbook. . . (grin)

        2. TeaLeaf

          Re: @Jimmy2Cows

          You didn't read that very interesting article linked above.

          If you have 97% white applicants, then what is wrong with your hiring practices? Sure, choose the most able applicants. No question about that.

          But the problem may be that you are only advertising in newspaper 'A' which has a 97% white readership. If you included newspaper 'B', which has a 97% black readership, then maybe your application figures would be much different. Or not. It is little, inadvertent details like this that are the problem.

          1. John 104

            Re: @Jimmy2Cows


            No, that isn't the problem. The problem is education. There are less black/women/minority applicants and employees because there are less educated people of this type. The why's and how's and political, socioeconomical reasons behind this are better discussed elsewhere.

            The bottom line, as stated elsewhere in these comments is qualified applicants. I don't give a rats ass if you are black, white, yellow, purple or have 3 arms (might increase productivity now that I think of it). If you can do the job, you will be considered for employment - whatever the field. If not, not. Don't like it? Go get an education or learn a trade. Knowledge is just about free to acquire these days. It just takes time and dedication. So enough excuses! Get out there and make something of yourself. Or just keep playing gangsta poser.

          2. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: @Jimmy2Cows

            First, my impression from occasional scanning of ordinary "white" newspapers is that very few IT related vacancies are posted there, and those generally have been for low level and insignificant positions for quite a few years.

            Second, the implication that "black" potential applicants somehow lack the ability or wit to read the "white" press seems a bit condescending if not, indeed, quite bigoted.

          3. Cynic_999

            Re: @Jimmy2Cows

            If there are no good jobs in newspaper "B', the black jobseekers should start looking in newspaper 'A' But perhaps the black jobseekers are just as happy with the jobs they find in newspaper 'B' as the whites are with jobs in newspaper 'A'?

            But in any case, if a company is getting a perfectly good selection of applicants when it advertises in newspaper 'A', why should it be obliged to spend money advertising anywhere else?

          4. Stevie

            Re: @Jimmy2Cows 4TeaLeaf


            I don't "do" Facebook, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't have a "want to work for us?" link on, you know, Facebook.

            If so, job done. Links are colorblind.

        3. hitmouse

          Re: re:just it is easier to get a job with them if your skin is white

          One big problem with starting out with a homogeneous workforce is that they often simply don't know what skills and knowledge they are missing out on by hiring only for competencies THAT THEY ARE AWARE OF.

          American software companies are generally lousy at hiring people who know how to address customer issues outside of the US. They cannot even conceive how living in a different hemisphere, set of timezones, school system etc might be possible or require changes in the way that they design and support their products,

          Case in Point, Facebook has not addressed a single internationalization bug that I have reported to them in the last five years. It's like asking their employees to breath something other than American Oxygen. They can't even imagine what it would take to solve such issues, and they don't hire people who might know how.

    4. MetaDude

      Re: So what you're saying is...

      The fact that lots of people seem to agree with the post above makes me sad.

      Who exactly is suggesting that people should be hired on the basis of their skin colour?

      For me the issue is that when the break down of the workforce is massively different from the general population it suggests a problem. Maybe part of the problem is a lack of skills / qualifications and maybe - just maybe - part of the problem is the recruitment process.

      Suggesting companies like Facebook don't employee significant numbers of minorities mostly because of a lack of skills / qualifications is a bullshit cop-out that lets people feel comfortable with the status quo and they can pretend that biases, conscious or un-conscious discrimination does not exist.

      Have I gone through a time warp and found myself in the 1960s ?

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: So what you're saying is...


        For me the issue is that when the break down of the workforce is massively different from the general population it suggests a problem.


        No, its suggests that there is some factor at work which may or may not be a problem. Different ethnic groups tend to follow different cultural norms, which can have an effect on both the skillset acquired and the choice of career. It is not necessarily disadvantageous to any group, but if it turns out that it is, the main thrust should be on getting the ethnic group concerned to change its habits rather than forcing companies to hire unsuitable employees. It only becomes discrimination when a company uses ethnicity as a factor in choosing who to employ, not if the company receives very few job applications from any particular group of people.

        While men and women each represent about 50% of the general population, you will find that a heck of a lot less than 50% of nursery school staff are men, and a great deal less than 50% of lorry drivers are women. Those situationd did not arise as a result of any form of discrimination.

        1. MetaDude

          Re: So what you're saying is...

          Wait. So there is no bias or discrimination at all in the employment process. It's just that "Different ethnic groups tend to follow different cultural norms ... " Realy ? So that's all there is to it ???

          So if equally qualified and experienced afro-american and white american candidates apply for positions their chances are generally equal?

          My experience suggests this is often just not true. I am not denying that "different cultural norms" exist and are a factor but to suggest that's it the only factor is a major over simplification. Like it or not there are many who still harbour racist views and suggestions that it's ALL down to "different cultural norms" allows them to hide their views and carry on unchecked.

          Please stop over-simplifying it down to basically issues with the ethnic groups themselves. Yes - there are issues with cultural expectations and practices (on all sides) but also there are problems with the education system AND with employment recruitment practices.

          Employers ( just like everyone else) should not be let off the hook

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So what you're saying is...

            It really is that simple. It's the truth-twisting spin doctors attempting to make it convoluted and complex to retain their control over little minds.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what you're saying is...

      The extreme left has completely taken over the asylum.

      People want entitlements because of skin colour or what's between their legs and facts or qualifications be damned.

  2. Mark 85

    So the question is, are they actually seeking qualified people? Or just paying lip service?

    Sorry.. this smells to like low grade fertilizer from FB.

    We're was I? Oh yeah.. gotta keep digging as I'm pretty sure there's a large male bovine in here someone amongst this steaming pile.....

    I do fail to see where having "quotas" will work as you'll just get unqualified people to fill a slot. Been there, saw the results back in the 70's and it wasn't pretty for anyone other than the PR types and HR spreadsheet types. These kinds of reports are bound to drive a "law" on hiring quotas...

    1. a_yank_lurker

      Probably not seeking qualified people from outside their preferred network. The problem is many companies will hire from a selected group of universities and majors for their technical staff and ignore anyone who is competent but lacks the degree from the "proper" school. I would not be surprised if Facebook is not doing the same.

      What happens is the pool they choosing from is not very representative of the whole pool but instead of looking outside their pool they moan about not finding minorities.

      1. PickledAardvark

        That explains part of the problem. To find talented programmers, FB recruits from "elite" universities with a "white bias". It's a naive decision by FB because it misses out so many talented people at other universities, but it makes life easy for recruiters.

        As a growing company, FB employs people in commercial, customer support, internal support roles -- and these don't demand superhero-like skills. 115 point IQ scores or equivalent in social skills are enough for most jobs. Nine out of ten FB employees don't write code; they use IT and work in IT, but they don't create IT.

        One would therefore expect FB employee representation to look more like the general population as the company grows. As the company gets bigger -- even if elite programmers are 100% white men -- one would expect diversity to increase if the company employs fairly.

        All the claims about "not enough black and women trained as engineers" are waffle to distract us from FB's failure to recruit fairly in other parts of the business.

        1. Triggerfish

          Well if the problem is Elite universities with white bias, is not some of the problem that?

        2. Updraft102

          Recruit fairly?

          Facebook is a business. It's not a job program. If they get enough qualified applicants coming through the door from the recruiting methods they're using now, then there's no reason to change those methods.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      So the question is, are they actually seeking qualified people?

      @Mark 85 - I don't think you need to be qualified to work at Facebook. Quite the opposite.

  3. gerritv

    It starts in school

    This article might give some insight into the skewed numbers?

    If you don't go to school, companies are not going to hire you for tech jobs, regardless of the huffing and puffing of activists.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: It starts in school

      "If you don't go to school, companies are not going to hire you for tech jobs, regardless of the huffing and puffing of activists."

      I would personally expect their recruiting to reflect the populus in general and forget about colour . So, the same amount of saddos, theives, autistic, disabled, gay, racist, political,geeky, nasty, sociopathic, empathetic, religious, fundamentalist ...

      The whole gamut of society as we know it. Spouting about gender or race is divisive. The human race is the human race lets not break it down but make them show a median of the race rather than a median of a subset.

      I do realise that given it is I.T. we might suffer from a lack of women, body builders and hot looking blokes but hey ho, we are what we are.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many poor people from working class areas do they hire?

    People like to ignore some of the things around hiring people, you a: hire someone who has the "correct" qualifications (these in the states tend to be expensive - especially as I expect in the states they exclusively get graduates except for 1st line call centre staff) and b: lives close to the office so they can get on site quickly - this will lead onto a chain of if you can't get an entry level role as you don't have the qualification or live close enough you'll never get the experience required to move on.

    Then I don't live in the states so my assumptions may be wrong. They may indeed just be going "for the love of god, don't hire the darkies"

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "How many poor people from working class areas do they hire?"

      hopefully, NO MORE than are the 'best qualified' for the positions they apply for. And when I say 'best qualified' it _EXCLUDES_ race, sex, or any other "has nothing to do with the job" characteristic.

    2. Blank Reg

      I've had recruiters from Facebook, Google etc contact me repeatedly despite my being thousands of miles from the valley. So I don't think proximity is an issue, except perhaps for entry level positions where they are likely not to put in nearly as much recruitment effort.

  5. gerritv

    I doubt companies look at where you live, you don't need to provide that information. The do look at qualifications, in some cases to an extreme no doubt.

    When I was hiring developers, designers and architects I looked at qualifications but experience and more importantly attitude is what tipped the balance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here. Here.

      My company has a hiring philosophy that boils down to, 'does the person have the knowledge and ability to do the job and fit in with everyone else'. For all we care they could be a big headed little green man from Mars and if they fit that criterion for the particular job then they would be employed. I assume that Facebook has the same requirements - people that know what they are doing and how to do it.

      1. LionelB Silver badge


        That's all good - but where does your company look for recruits, where do they advertise, and so on?

        And "fit in with everyone else" sounds a bit slippery to me. A white male will no doubt fit in very nicely in a culture of white male co-workers. Not saying your company discriminates (perhaps subconsciously) in that way, but is it likely that your little green man from Mars is going to fit in that nicely? Dunno, like he smells a bit funny, due to his Venusian sludge-worm diet...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When we hire infrastructure staff we consider where people live, as you're concerned about people getting in to the office on time and importantly at odd times (if the systems go down at 1am and you need someone in to fix it) or you need people in to do a release - having to set off at 5am to start work at 7am can be problematic. Also when you're talking shift work. Also staying power, sure someone might stick about for a year with a 3 hour commute if they're desperate for work but the second something comes up they're out the door.

      So it's very much a consideration.

  6. benderama

    People only hire people that remind themselves of... themselves. A white dude who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth is hardly going to see similarities with someone who fought and earned everything the hard way growing up.

    Naturally there are exceptions to the rule, as there are nice people everywhere. But you'll see the majority of hires are clones of the hirer/hiring committee. The same school, preppy appearance, speech patterns..

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      "People only hire people that remind themselves of... themselves. "

      I disagree. the purpose of a business is PROFIT. Therefore, you hire the person who will MAKE THE MOST MONEY FOR THE COMPANY. Unless the employee is a flaming ASSHAT, is VERY likely to sue you for some B.S. reason [i.e. an 'issues' person and it's obvious], has a poor attitude towards others, or smells like a sewer in the interview, chances are NONE of the characteristics that are so often touted in 'diversity' arguments will even be looked at for a SECOND.

      Not if the company wants to MAKE MONEY, anyway. And yeah, "Mr. Issues" probably won't get hired because he's already advertising the desire to SUE YOU at the drop of a hat. And so on.

      I guess walking into an interview with an attitude OTHER than "how can I help you potential customer" isn't going to help you later.

      (then again I have been a contractor for EVAR and have an actual interview with a potential 'customer' soon...)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Facebook believes white pampered fratboys make them the most money and hire accordingly. Why? Because that's the company culture. Because Zuckerburg built up the company that way from scratch.

        Now ask anyone from an ethnic minority if they'd like to work in a building full of white pampered fratboys. I don't know, I'm going out on a limb as I'm not an ethnic minority where I am and haven't experienced it but I suspect a sense of self preservation kicks in. I know I'd have one if I lived in a country where I could get shot by Rosco P. Coltrane because of the way I looked. Life is bad enough already without working with a load of fratboys on top of that.

        And I wouldn't work at Facebook either because I don't agree with the data mining and they'd be insufferable.

        1. GreatBlah

          I'm black and I'm female.

          There are certain companies that while I have the skills and I am approached by recruiters to apply for I won't.

          There are other companies who after meeting their technical employees and us getting on with each other, I am told that while I will get pass the techies at interview their HR - normally full of white, middle class females - who I won't get pass. Why? Cos they are afraid I will sue them for something!

          Funny thing is in all the companies I've had no problem working for the people who try and sue them are other guys. This because the type of guys who have no problems hiring me ensure I don't work in a bad environment and I personally keep well away from HR. Over the years I've worked I've had far more s*** from the b****** in HR than from the guys I've worked with and I tend to give as good as I get.

          1. Dr Scrum Master

            I will get pass the techies at interview their HR ... I won't get pass

            Having to be interviewed by HR is always a bad sign.

      2. LionelB Silver badge

        @bombastic bob

        Not sure I'd hire someone who SHOUTS ALL THE TIME.

      3. hitmouse

        "" the purpose of a business is PROFIT. Therefore, you hire the person who will MAKE THE MOST MONEY FOR THE COMPANY. ""

        In theory. My experience of working in a big west coast software company is that a lot of managers would rather the company lost business of large market segments than they would have to address issues completely foreign to their way of thinking.

        I've seen it time and time again. Smart people, but blinkered in so many ways.

      4. HAL-9000
        IT Angle

        "People only hire people that remind themselves of... themselves. "

        Indeed they most certainly do! It is a form of confirmation bias, we all do it unfortunately, and it's difficult to avoid or negate. Research has shown that selection for interview without the silent/hidden clues to racial or social background leads to more diverse interview candidate selection. On a related topic have a read here. Certain non liberal factions get all worked up over positive discrimination, however to overcome this bias there is only one method that works. FB should know better, and ought to be going out of their way to put this right.

    2. James Hughes 1


      As a 'white boy', with perhaps a slightly silver spoon, I would have to disagree, but maybe that's because I am British. I've interviewed all sorts in my time, and am pretty sure I recommended the best person for the job, irrespective of the colour of their skin, or their background. That includes Greeks, Nigerians, Romanians, Chinese, Indian, English, Scottish, and some others.

      No gingers though, since I used to be one.

      Please don't tar everyone with the same brush.

  7. Youngone Silver badge

    Not sure

    While I dislike the idea of hiring people because of their skin colour, the massive corporation I work for sent a team to our site to lecture us on diversity last year.

    A site filled with Chinese, Filipinos, Maoris, Niueans and white people of both genders.

    They sent us 5 middle-aged white men.

    I got in trouble for laughing.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: Not sure

      Why did you laugh? The diversity thing is for the peons, the ruling class will always be white.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the ruling class will always be white.

        The ruling classes of China or India are unlikely to be white. There are probably one or two other countries, some also quite populous, that aren't run by "white people" either. Maybe e.g. Japan might count?

        Presumably you are considering only a subset of ruling classes ... such as those in a distinct subset of all countries. Is there a reason you are predisposed to consider only that subset?

        1. Alien8n

          Re: the ruling class will always be white.

          Japan is notorious for xenophobia. It's exceedingly rare to find anyone not of a Japanese origin in charge at a Japanese company. And by that I mean anywhere that's not Japan. When I grew up in the North East of England my dad worked for a Japanese company. All the senior management were Japanese. I wasn't going to complain though, I was 7 and grew up eating Japanese food as I went to school with my dad's boss's kids (even now I seem to be the only one in the restaurant actually using chopsticks properly)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the ruling class will always be white.

          The ruling classes of China or India are unlikely to be white.

          Perhaps not white but they do seem to have lower melanin levels than many of their compatriots.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure

        And ladies and gentlemen, it's that thought pattern right there will screw us over. The Idea that the person in charge will always be white. Make America great again.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Not sure

      Reminds me of the scene from Veep where the hapless President arranges a public "diversity debate" and the 5 attendees are all white middle aged men ....

    3. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Not sure

      I don't think you're supposed to say 'both genders' now. Did they not cover that in the lecture, or were you laughing too much to hear?

      1. Keith Glass

        Re: Not sure

        Speaking of that, what **IS** the official count and list of "genders"? Last one I saw bandied about was 30+ "genders". And of course, the origin of the list was Tumblr. . .

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Not sure

          what **IS** the official count and list of "genders"? --- Keith Glass

          Four: Unknown, Male, Female, N/A (IEC 5218). Although you'd be amazed at the number of people in the healthcare IT sector who still think it's binary, forty years after this standard.

      2. Bloakey1

        Re: Not sure

        "I don't think you're supposed to say 'both genders' now. Did they not cover that in the lecture, or were you laughing too much to hear?"

        Agreed nowadays one should say Bitches and Homeys. Anything else is nasty misandristic and misogynistic clap trap that the lizard people foist upon us so that they can control the Ho's and man Ho's better.

        Say no Bitches and Homeys.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure

      "the massive corporation I work for sent a team to our site to lecture us on diversity last year."

      Many years ago head office sent us a diversity consultant. The MD said to me "you'd better look after him along with X (the HR guy) because I gather you get a lot of minorities at Cambridge and Sandhurst and you won't put your feet in it."

      He turned out to be a young woman, we got on fine, I left her alone for half an hour with our two lesbian researchers, the other directors managed to keep their mouths shut and all went well. We got a pat on the back from upstairs. But I think this was the moment at which the MD decided that as soon as he could wangle it there would be a shakeup in senior management.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The more I think about Facebook, the more it seems....

    * That its one giant cult, not far off from Scientology etc. In fact the same has been said about Google @ Dublin HQ.

    * There's no other way the people working there wouldn't ask themselves what are we doing here, isn't this evil? (Escaping Tax / 3 anti-trust investigations etc)

    * Both are trampling privacy, rights and protections that took decades or hundreds of years to earn, into the ground in a single decade. TTIP / TPP / TISA on the horizon..

    * Skeptical? Think about this then... The father of the internet calls the internet: Spynet!

    * I used to think Zuk was a psycho or a sociopath, but now I think he's really just a giant cult leader connecting the world to the Gods-of-Advertising...

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: The more I think about Facebook, the more it seems....

      Wow, quite the tinfoil post there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Wow, quite the tinfoil post there."

        @James Hughes 1

        Close Facebook & read this over the weekend (its a quick read). Tinfoil hats aside, its written by someone whose arguably a lot smarter than you or I....


        The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism


  9. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Hiring laws

    In the US it is illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, creed, ethnicity and soon, which loo you prefer to use. I would argue that it's proper to turn that around and make it illegal to HIRE somebody based on race, religion, gender, etc.

    Race is one of the items that employers are prohibited from asking on an application and there could be repercussions for recording that information in an employees file. So, why should FaceBitch know what the ethnic makeup of their employees is? Gender is ok to track since there are issues that employers have to comply with such as bathrooms and insurance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hiring laws

      Same in the Netherlands (Europe), and probably in dozens of other European countries too. But apparently some people think that positive discrimination is a positive thing because, well, it should have positive effects.

      Quite frankly I'd rather see that companies hire people based on their skills than because of some "political correct" ruling.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Hiring laws

      unfortunately, demographics are used as EVIDENCE in discrimination lawsuits. So unless there was a lack of applications filed for a particular job by people of a particular race, it COULD hurt FaceBarph to have a lack of employees that are more a representative sampling of "normal demographics".

      then again, there are more black people and hispanic people and S.E. asian-descendent people in specific areas of the USA than in others. You know, 'neighborhoods'. Areas surrounding Face-barph's office should be 'demographically analyzed' before any accusations are made... as well as an examination of the applications that were submitted.

    3. Keith Glass

      Re: Hiring laws

      Back when they DID have that box on the (paper) form, I used to mess with them, mark "other" and write in "human". . . .Several times I got arguments from Personnel. . .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hiring laws, human

        In Canada in government and at least some companies, writing in Human would result in your race being recorded as White. That idea that we should not discriminate based on race is very much a minority European idea, rejected by almost everyone, including those wanting jobs because of their race.

        Laws are not on your side in Canada, discrimination is very much accepted as shown by our many Human Right Commission rulings and companies who openly refuse to higher those they see as Canadian (particularly white but also Aboriginal and multi-generational). I asked a friend why his mother, who recently got a promotion that allowed her to select new applicants, was only hiring family.

        He explained that it would be morally wrong for any family member to be unemployed while she hired someone else. Moral duty was clear, family first, then people from their home city, then geographical homeland (but not the one group they are fighting), and Canadians last. He explained it is what everyone does, even Canadians.

        I pointed out that most Canadians do not do that, that there are many Canadians wanting his 6 figure job and the job his mother has. His response, Canadian are fools to not care about their own family.

    4. hitmouse

      Re: Hiring laws

      Generally people can make quick assessments based on surname of someone's foreign-ness.

      This is something that has come up time and time again in France, which collects no statistics about race. Tests have been run against mailed-in applications to employers who claim not to discriminate on race because they're unaware of it - however applications from non-traditional French surnames are massively rejected

  10. Faceless Man

    A key problem

    A key problem with the logic of "We hire on the basis of skill, not ethnicity/gender/minority status" is the implicit assumption that your recruitment practices are perfect, and that the best candidates for your workplace are usually straight, white males. (Unless, of course, you have a richly diverse workforce, in which case well done you.)

    In a work environment that is primarily of one ethnic group, it makes sense to wonder if there might be a bias towards that group in your recruitment practices. On a wider level, if genuinely there are no suitably qualified candidates outside that group, there may be issues around opportunities and education that need to be addressed.

    Ultimately, Affirmative Action and quotas aren't about hiring unqualified people to tick some boxes, it's about ensuring you are hiring the best people, and giving people who might ordinarily miss out opportunities they have been excluded from in the past.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: A key problem

      Affirmative action and quotas are very much about hiring based on characteristics that nearly everyone considers not relevant to job duties or competence to perform them, in order to be able to tick boxes or supply numbers on government required forms. If they were about hiring the best individuals for the available jobs they would look at the actual applicant pool rather than the population as a whole in making comparisons.

      They also might look at an organization's targeted efforts to recruit from favored minorities, or they might not. In the end and for nearly all profit oriented companies, it is not a primary goal to remedy the effects of past discrimination, and for significant "of color" groups like those of East or South Asian origin or ancestry, the problem, if there is one, seems to be to control over-representation despite the fact of extensive past discrimination, particularly against East Asians..

      1. truthhurts87

        Re: A key problem

        Explain the incompetent Whites?

  11. Amorous Cowherder

    Numbers games, surely?

    Surely this is all a game of percentages?

    If you have job X and you put out for CVs and you get 6/10 white males, 2/10 while females, 1/10 black and 1/10 Asian. Then the most obvious thing, even to a pre-GCSE maths student is that the probability of someone from the higher percentage ( the white male group ) getting the job is much higher. Simple, basic probability.

    This "screaming meamies" crying foul over possible employment discrimination need to expend their energies on getting into schools and promoting the value of a well paid tech/science job to kids who may not have otherwise thought of it. most kids aren't stupid, they simply need the right motivation, sadly in today's world, for a lot of them, it's shite like Meet the Kardashians and X-Factor.

    When you have a society that worships at the feet of the likes of Kanye West and that fat arsed bird he's with ( who's famous for simply being famous ) or a dozen premier league footballers and their bimbo girlfriends, rather than paying respect to the likes of Dr Brian Cox (*), then you're going to end up with a load of kids with poor ideas about life choices. My daughter has just made her choices for GCSE, she wants to do history and science subjects, the discussions at school came up about what the other kids want to do in life, the top 3 ( from her very rough straw poll ) footballer, hairdresser and rock star! FFS! Other kids asked my girl why she was taking history, geography and sociology, they couldn't understand how someone could enjoy those subjects as they're so boring! There's your problem, right there. A lot of kids believing the shite like X-Factor, thinking that getting their 15 mins of fame is all that matters over trying to begin a steady career path.

    (* - just using Cox as an example of a scientist who's in the media that kids would have certainly seen )

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Up

      Re: Numbers games, surely?

      10e6 Internets for you, Sir!

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Numbers games, surely? @Amorous Cowherder Silver badge

        You appear to be channelling my exact thoughts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Numbers games, surely?

      "If you have job X and you put out for CVs and you get 6/10 white males, 2/10 while females, 1/10 black and 1/10 Asian."

      It is not simple probability, and demonstrates the fallacy of McKinseyism. You would need to know the qualifications and relative experience.

      Asian is not a useful description - do you mean East Russian, Han Chinese, Gujarati, Bengali, Pakistani? Very different cultures. The 10% "asians" might all be really determined individuals who had made it to the US, gained further degrees and got Green Cards. The 60% white males might be the less able who weren't getting on in their jobs or were unemployed. Without actually knowing the population statistics, you can't conclude anything.

      The new UK PM has just had a clearing of the stables, thrown out a load of OEs and replaced them with largely State educated men and women. Is this positive discrimination? Or it is that she doesn't have the OE/PPE blinkers that has lead previous PMs to believe that anybody who hasn't at least gone to Oxford is less well suited to a ministerial role?

      When one reads about the Facebook culture it sounds like a US version of Eton and Oxford. It's possible that many white candidates are being discriminated against, just as some people suggest Google is biased in favour of computer scientists and against people who have got into programming and system design through different routes. This might be quite wrong, but transparency would help.

    3. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: Numbers games, surely?

      Surely this is all a game of percentages?

      If you have job X and you put out for CVs and you get 6/10 white males, 2/10 while females, 1/10 black and 1/10 Asian. Then the most obvious thing, even to a pre-GCSE maths student is that the probability of someone from the higher percentage ( the white male group ) getting the job is much higher.

      The second most obvious thing is to ask yourself why you got a bunch of CVs that fail so dismally to reflect the demographics of your society, and how you might like to address that (I doubt it's entirely Kim Kardashian's fault, although I agree she must shoulder a lot of the blame.)

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Numbers games, surely?

      I mentor kids in science and I'm seeing schools dropping labs due to insurance and liability. All those chemicals and glass…. the kids could make explosives and drugs or get cut if they dropped a test tube! OMG! Run in circles, scream and shout. I don't think that I would have made it through a strictly lecture and theory curriculum. The lab work was the most fun and drove home the concepts. I happen to be a very tactile and visual learner, so being hands-on is important to me.

      History, geography and sociology can be very interesting with the right teacher and coursework.

      Education starts at home. If parents aren't interested, their children certainly won't be. If somebody's cultural background values education very little, …… It's the rare child that can rise above poor surroundings and make their own way in a sea of apathy, but those cases always get trotted out. The poorer somebody grows up, the less likely they will succeed in the sort of job an IT company pays good money for. Those people tend to be ethnic minorities. It's a hard cycle to break, but companies can't fix a poor education or lack of parenting by hiring unqualified workers. The company suffers and the people around an under-qualilfied worker will be resentful of having to make up for their lack.

      Brian Cox is a good example. He's a well spoken scientist AND a rock star. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a career in music, sports or cutting hair, but getting a living paycheck out of any of them is a right bastard. I saw an interview with Sting when he said, it's possible to make a lot of money in the music industry, but it's very hard to make a living. The good thing about having a "real" job is that it pays for gear and lessons. Sports? If you aren't the top player in your school by a wide margin, you are unlikely to make the pros. A little bit of that scary math stuff comparing the number of kids that play football for a school team and the number of players getting paid as a professional has a lot of naughts on the right hand side of the decimal.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Numbers games, surely?

        " it's possible to make a lot of money in the $ENTERTAINMENT industry, but it's very hard to make a living"

        That to a T. When I grew up in the 1970s an ex-ShefWed footballer lived down the road from us. He worked as a mechanic and made a decent enough income to afford a nice house in a nice area. When he was a footballer his manager and ensured all the lads went through college and got proper qualifications as kicking a ball around won't put food on the table after you're 30. Nowadays, though, popular culture has taught kids that it will, for everybody, for their whole life.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wouldn't want to work for Facebook either...

  13. Winkypop Silver badge

    Blind selection

    Let the panel short-list candidates without any prior knowledge of:

    - Physical appearance

    - Vocal impression

    - Sexual identification

    - Cultural background

    - Religious adherence (if any)

    Let the entire shortlisting process be a paper exercise, based solely on the individual's claim and qualifications for the job.

    In-person interviews, afterwards, would highlight any bias that may be present.

  14. razorfishsl

    Drop down to the local soup kitchen....

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Wow. Your handle brings back some memories.

  15. drtune

    It's absurd, I have no doubt that FB would dearly love to hire more women and black people simply to stop this criticism (although I'm sure it has tons of brown people - Indian workers), but they're not going to hire unqualified people just for that.

    I don't think I've ever met anyone in tech who hired on the basis of gender or skin color - it's ENTIRELY about skills and "will they fit in and work hard".

    It's hard enough to find good developers as it is, companies I know would never turn anyone good down even if they had three heads and purple skin. FWIW, I've been a hardcore developer my whole life and I'm entirely self taught; left school at 16 to program computer games, it's not about money on education and it's not like there's a huge barrier to entry to learn coding; you've just got to really love the job, that's all there is to it. It's not for everyone.

  16. TeacherMARK

    If you are wetting your pink panties over who Facebook is hiring, you really shouldn't be allowed out on your own. Who cares what color the workforce is so long as they can do their jobs.I'm never gonna meet 'em or see 'em. They can be spray-painted orange for all I care.

    1. LionelB Silver badge

      "Spoken like a white man", as they used to say in apartheid South Africa, where I grew up.

  17. maffski

    Channelling Worstall

    Does it matter? If there is a surfeit of 'diverse' tech employees that Facebook is ignoring then other tech companies won't ignore them.

    In fact Worstall covered it on the register

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telephone interviews

    You could eliminate some bias if you had a blind telephone interview to preselect candidates from an anonymised pool.

    Too easy ?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Telephone interviews

      Yes, too easy. Because there are enormous amounts of subtle and not so subtle clues in the way people talk, the words they use, how they react to questions etc. You can often make a good guess about "class" and where someone was born just from the accent (or traces if they've tried to change)

      I think the closest you could get to a blind, unbiased process would be for the first stage to be a standardised CV in tickbox form, attempting to eliminate all references that might give a clue about the persons social or racial background, eg select your qualifications from a list but don't ask where they gained them.

      Probably a lot less use to an interviewer, maybe even impractical (and almost certainly cumbersome) in the real world, but as fair as it could ever get.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Telephone interviews

        Agreed, if you spend any reasonable duration in a call centre you can tell the race and social class of callers. However unless you allowed the call receiver to choose who to employ then there would be a incriminating paper trail in the event of employment discrimination.

        There is of course the other side of the coin where some employers are massively over representing "minorities" without being held to be biased. Until a few years ago getting into the BBC if you were heterosexual white male was virtually impossible, it could be said because those departments were actively allowed to recruit only SEX other/ RACE other.

        If you really want forced representation in employment to work then you are going to need to give massive tax breaks for in-company training and continuing free education for "skills shortage" subjects. However since this would cost even more more than the race stick currently employed and would result in the feared "brain drains" of educated people leaving said country it isn't going to happen. Better instead to keep your lower classes uneducated and unable to escape to a country that would respect their skills, and continue the "won't someone please think of the minority X" in the liberal media.

  19. Hollerithevo

    Orchestra candidates

    Symphonies orchestras used to be all white and pretty much all male (maybe the harpists and a junior violin was a white female).

    Then they introduced auditions where the candidates played from behind a screen and were chosen simply on merit.

    The number of women, older men, and non-white players went up. All were skilled and accomplished and professional.

    But before then, every player had been chosen on merit alone. It's the skills that matter not the gender or colour, right?

    1. 's water music

      Re: Orchestra candidates

      I wonder why the down-vote. I also had this is mind as a text-book example of demonstrable discrimination in selection processes. Whether it is, or is characterised as institutional, subconscious or just covert doesn't really matter. It serves as a good case study that suggests that if your selection demographics are skewed then it is worth critically examining why that is, whether you believe in good faith that they are fair or not.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets compare face book to other silicon valley tech industries. I know in Santa Clara county blacks make up 2.4 % of the population and make 2.1% of the PhD holders.

    I went to prominently black church in San Jose and people there worked at places like Locke heed, BAE(yes there is BAE in Santa Clara) HP, IBM et. So lets see why there is such a low rate of blacks working at face book.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Perhaps they do not like Facebook

      Perhaps they have taste.

      Lookheed and BAE sound like much more interesting places to work.

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Perhaps they do not like Facebook

        Lookheed and BAE sound like much more interesting places to work.

        Unless you are lumbered with principles and don't want to work towards killing people?

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Perhaps they do not like Facebook

          But still probably less harm than Facebook

  21. joeldillon

    2 to 9% is, what, 450% as many people as they used to hire. I'm not sure that's small!

  22. Yugguy

    Less hiring, or fewer applications?

    I wonder about this whenever this type of subject comes up.

    For instance - women in powerful positions in business or politics. Are women deliberately rejected during the selection process or is it simply because the average woman is less interested in power than the average bloke?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    JUst a thought

    But what % of applicants to FB were from the BME community?

    You can only (potentially) employ those that actually apply.

    That said equality and diversity requirements can be slightly bonkers.

    In a former life I worked for a local authority in the North West who were criticised by race relations groups for a lack of diversity and for not reflecting the borough's population. That these groups hadn't done their research seemed to pass the critics by as the council employed approx. 10% of its staff from the BME community while the BME population of the borough was a fraction over 1.5%!!!

    Still people will always be outraged by something regardless of what people/companies do, good or bad.

  24. Mage Silver badge

    Alternatively ...

    What about that people boycott Facebook.

    They are not nice to work for and are a parasite on the Internet creating a walled garden, stealing people's privacy and exploiting it. Perhaps Black, Hispanic and Women care more about the morality of who they work for?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or maybe

    - or maybe there's just something about Facebook or working for Facebook, that simply doesn't appeal to most women or folk from ethnic minorities?

    I agree wholeheartedly that for ANY job it should be a case of 'if you're the best interviewee for the job, you get the job', irrespective of race, gender, faith etc. But let's face it, some types of job will be best served by certain sections of humanity. Plot any particular human trait you like from a sample population, and you're likely to get some kind of bell curve, with the odd distortion here and there, and it's notable that those bell curves tend to be different for men and women, taken en masse. So if your job tends to be best tackled by someone in the outliers for some trait or other, then chances are you WILL get an imbalance of genders in your workforce.

    So,much as I despise Facebook, I wouldn't necessarily knock them for not having an averagely diverse workforce. If their recruitment processes discriminate based on gender, race, faith, etc, then sure, they'd deserve a hefty slap in the wallet for that. That aside, who cares? It is NOT the current composition of their workforce that is the problem. it MIGHT be indicative of a problem, or it might just be that even with fair hiring policies, certain types of folk just don't ant to work with that firm.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Not a problem

    White folks can simply state they regard themselves as a person-of-color and the figures will snap into line with quota

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why is it Googles problem that not enough blacks choose to study technology? It may be a stereotype but there's probably no shortage of Asian workers. Why is everything where blacks are under represented an issue in the USA, even when they choose not do something; They are over represented when it comes to sport but I don't remember the news showing any demonstrations demanding more white sportspeople.

  28. Swarthy
    Paris Hilton

    A notable omission

    In TFA it mentions that FB is light in Female, Hispanic and African-American workers. Fair enough. It then goes on to talk about the preponderance of White, Male workers. Ie: Everyone else.

    What about the Asian contingent? Did they get lumped in as "White" or were those numbers appropriate, and so got left out?

  29. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Whilst I was watching the latest International Ball Kicking competition the other day I noticed a huge lack of diversity. There were almost no women playing in the competition!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Kurt Meyer

      Women in football

      @ Prst. V.Jeltz

      "Whilst I was watching the latest International Ball Kicking competition the other day I noticed a huge lack of diversity. There were almost no women playing in the competition!"

      You weren't watching closely, there was an entire team of women.

      They were (mercifully for fans of exciting football) knocked out of the competition when they lost to Iceland 1-2.

  30. LionelB Silver badge

    ...that Facebook should go out of their way to hire more non-white people, in other words: hire more people based entirely on the colour of their skin?

    ...or is the implication that their recruitment program discriminates against hiring black, Hispanic and female people?

  31. PickledAardvark

    A bit off topic, but who uses Facebook?

    If you read histories of startup companies -- in the US, UK, wherever -- there'll be an anecdote about Jo who was a user of the product and wanted to make it better.

    I'd like to know more about Facebook user demographics. Do black and Asian people consider FB differently from university educated white people?

  32. Ilsa Loving


    Judging from the quality of their code-base, I seriously would love to know what their definition of "qualified" is.

    If the best you can do is write half gigabyte mobile app, and a 250MB messenger app, then it's safe to say that "quality" isn't something you value in your employees.

  33. goldcd

    Why not start here?

    I'm sure The Register is aware of the demographics of their readership (and their writers for that matter).

    Do they feel it's their duty to balance correct this skew towards educated, white, middle-aged males?

  34. kelbag1974

    As a female who was employed in an overly male dominated Railway engineering apprenticeship (only female in a team of 40 men) I was automatically assumed to have been employed to boost up the diversity ratings and to be thick as pig sh*t or to be sleeping with the manager in order to keep my unfairly awarded position so I know for a fact that diversity ratings actually hurt those from minorities/under-represented sexes.

    Fully advocate the 'Employ the best person for the job' attitude, it's down to the education systems to make sure ALL opportunities are available to ALL people regardless of whether they are male, female, both, pink, purple, martian or moomin

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Perfect Employee

    For many decades, Canada has had "reverse discrimination" in place for many federal departments and some provincial / municipal organizations. That essentially means the standards are lowered for people meeting specific racial / gender classifications. The end result is that people with lower skill levels are in positions for which they normally would not qualify. The ongoing joke in the 1980s was that the ideal federal employee is a French-speaking, elderly Native woman in a wheelchair. If this person shows up for the job interview, she gets the job!

  36. smartypants

    The final solution...

    I am now old enough to realise that humans cannot stop trying to organise other people into boxes. It's a biological thing. We are what we are.

    The solution therefore is for everyone to sleep with everyone else. 9 or 10 generations later, we'll all look like generic humans and this race thing will stop being a source of injustice, prejudice and so on.

    Oh hang on... what about religion, culture, political views etc...

    Shit. It isn't the final solution at all!

    We're doomed, I tell ye!

  37. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    The more important question is what is the profile of APPLICANTS to Facebook? If only 5% of applicants are black and 5% of employees are black, it's nothing to do with Facebook. What do you do then? Force black people at gunpoint to apply for jobs with Facebook?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's really rather stupid...

    ...and we all know that you can't fix STUPID. I don't see very many talented competent minorities in my little part of the world having difficulty finding good tech jobs. Some times you need to move to where the jobs are or change careers.

  39. vinyl1

    Back in the 90s, I met a black guy who was an excellent C++ programmer.

    He was quite happy being a contractor, and he had plenty of work. He told me he enjoyed being independent, and would never take a corporate job because of all the BS you have to put up with.

  40. John Savard

    Between the Lines

    As far as I know, Facebook is not a supplier of equipment or services to the U.S. military or any other branches of its government.

    That means that, unlike a number of other American tech companies, it does not have to comply with strict goals, quotas, and timetables to maintain certification as an Equal Opportunity Employer. Or lose all their government contracts.

    And so it is not necessarily a case of Facebook's management or owners being bigots. Instead, while there are plenty of qualified black people - not as many in proportion to the population as white people, because black people (and Hispanics and women) are disadvantaged, after all - these other companies, which have to hire them, have been snapping them all up.

  41. Ruli Manurung

    There is an analysis error in the article

    Let's compare and contrast two paragraphs from early on in the article:


    "Despite having been at the receiving end of years of criticism for its overwhelmingly white male workforce, the social media giant's latest figures show that only 4 per cent of its workers are Hispanic and just 2 per cent African-American. The percentage of women at the company crept up a single percentage point to 33 per cent."


    "But fear not! Change is coming, and Facebook noted that of the new senior leadership hires in the past 12 months, 9 per cent are black, five per cent are Hispanic, and 29 per cent are women. Which apart from the small increase in black hires – from 2 to 9 per cent – is a rounding error improvement in Hispanic and actually worse figures for women."

    We can see the author is comparing the two sets of numbers, e.g. "small increase in black hires", "a rounding error improvement in Hispanic", "worse figures for women".

    But whereas the first paragraph described the percentages of the entire workforce, the latter describes "senior leadership hires".

  42. Brian Allan 1

    You hire the person that is best for the job, regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, hair style... Companies should never hire on a quota system; sure way to doom any company!

  43. Thatguyfromthatforum

    As a recent cs grad

    We had several girls join and leave the course (for free) which was paid for by taxpayers to "get women into stem". Being discriminated against for being male really fucked me off quite honestly. To add insult to injury the 3 black students in my year and the year below got a myriad of freebies, because "reasons". Not to mention they were accepted into this very prestigious British uni without meeting the entrance criteria. Meaning that I had worked extra hard to get a place on a degree course that I could of waltzed into if my skin was a different colour.

    Quite ironically I'm mixed race, but being male was too much of a burden apparently when it came to the selection process. I can also say that both girls who graduated recently I our class both relied on everyone to do their work, with one buying her final year project online. Everyone knew but the administration of this uni were too scared to take action, because "sexist".

    I got a 2:1, one of the girls also got a 2:1.

    Who do you think tech firms will hire, irrespective of talent?

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