back to article When Facebook says you're not a good 'culture fit', it means you're not White or Asian enough – complaint

Facebook has been formally accused of racial discrimination in a complaint from three Black plaintiffs, one a manager at the social network and two applicants who have repeatedly been rejected by the web giant. In a complaint filed with America's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Oscar Veneszee, Howard Winns and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too many Americans

    If you are a global business shouldn't your workforce be about 2/3 Asian?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Too many Americans

      Although if you're Facebook it should also be 98% twatish

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

    The ‘cultural fit’ thing is the codeword for discrimination. This is how it happens.

    Tech workers could be good at solving puzzles and ace interviews, but they are not good at solving real life conflict management or practicing healthy social behavior. So how do you make them work in groups and collaborate? Here comes the ‘cultural fitness' mantra. You put ‘similar’ people in a group so that they can work together and be productive. The goal of finding ‘cultural fitness’ is looking for ‘similar’ kinds of engineers. Did I say ‘similar’? Yes, that’s where discrimination starts.

    When the process of looking for ‘cultural fitness’ is quite vague, there is plenty of room for accommodating one’s subconscious bias - this candidate is slow, this candidate didn’t look energetic, this candidate jumps into the problem without thinking through, or make up any vague superficial reasoning to reject the candidate . End result: white engineers are going to find ‘cultural fitness’ among white candidates, Indian engineers are going to find ‘cultural fitness’ among Indian candidates, Chinese candidates are going to find ‘cultural fitness’ among Chinese candidates, males engineers are going to reject female candidates for not being ‘cultural fit’, younger engineers are going to reject older candidates for not being ‘cultural fit’ - list goes on.

    Facebook interview process has something called ‘behavioral interview’. You gotta ask yourself - is this guy psychologist or behavioral scientist? What behavior is going to be assessed in one-hour interview? Does he/she have any formal training to assess others' behavior? Nope, he is just another guy who stares the whole day at python code - not someone who is looking at people to understand their behavior. It’s not about doing objective assessment of the candidate's behavior. His job is to answer the question: is this candidate going to fit into one of the engineering teams?

    In a nutshell, ‘cultural fitness’ is meant for *excluding* different kinds of people - be it black or female or latino or egyptian or russian or LGBTQ.

    Make no mistake, almost all the jobs in this world require ‘cultural fitness’ - starting from janitorial works to astronauts. Military is a good example, where ‘cultural fitness’ is paramount. But the military interview process does not have a vague eight-hour interview process to find ‘cultural fit’. Their process is quite objective - height, weight, physical fitness, drug test, basic aptitude tests etc. There is no room for discrimination - at least in face value. But once you are recruited, their training process is going to make damn sure that you *become* ‘cultural fit’. The important word here is ‘become’ - you are not hired as ‘cultural fit’, you become ‘cultural fit’. If you still cannot become a ‘cultural fit’, you will be kicked out, or worse - you will leave yourself.

    You gotta ask yourself, if Facebook is such a great place to work, why is ‘cultural fitness’ even a criteria in the hiring process? If a monkey is hired at Facebook, it should be able to go through ‘cultural fitness’ training, adapt to a great place of 'cultural fitness', collaborate with other engineers and pump out million lines of code within a month. Monkey *becomes* ‘cultural fit’.

    It’s not that top management is not aware of this discriminatory process. They are quite smart and quite aware. But if such a discriminatory process can keep stock prices up, why bother to change it? Maintain status quo. However, as a public company, top management needs to show that they are not discriminating. Hence, some band-aids in the recruitment process - having a diversity group to review candidates. But this is a fig-leaf - not really aimed to fix discriminatory processes.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

      "The ‘cultural fit’ thing is the codeword for discrimination. This is how it happens."

      Right, though many of the other claims could be just made up B.S., this one thing sticks out like something I'd be nauseated to have to deal with. I'm glad I don't work for F.B. as I'd never "fit' in their "culture" at all. (such a touchy-feely nauseating term, "culture-fit" - makes me wanna hurl).

      If that term is FOR REAL as part of their overall H.R. philosophy, it sounds like the basis for an entire SERIES of discrimination lawsuits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

        "If that term is FOR REAL as part of their overall H.R. philosophy, it sounds like the basis for an entire SERIES of discrimination lawsuits."

        This "cultural fit" philosophy plagued whole Silicon Valley - FB, Google, Twitter, name any company. Even older generation companies got infected - IBM, Oracle, HP. Silicon Valley could be great place innovation, but when it comes to workplace culture it's all Monkey-See-Money-Do. One successful company adopts one philosophy. Suddenly you find it everywhere, as if such philosophy is the secret of success, even though there is no correlation. A classic example of Monkey-See-Money-Do.

    2. Cliffwilliams44

      Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

      "Culture fit" and "peer review" are just more of this "woke" gobbledygook these progressive business professors who have never worked in the real work sell to these clueless corporate leaders. They use this corporate version on "new speak" to insulate themselves from actually doing anything productive. I and my group are very effective at what we do but if we had to be reviewed by our peers for our annual assessment I fear it would not be so good because we "do not suffer fools very well".

      On the other hand, the real issue with minorities in tech is the fact than many, not all, but many do not fit into the "culture" of tech work. The long hours, the collaboration, etc. As a long term tech manager who once worked in the most predominantly black city in the US is was hard to find good fits for tech jobs that were minorities even when your applicants were 75% black. You can react to this however "woke" you want it is just facs.

      When companies like Facebook are hiring tech workers they get White and Asian applicants who have been involved in tech since they were children competing with Black and Hispanic applicants whose first exposure to tech was in late high school or college.

      1. myithingwontcharge

        Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

        @Cliffwilliams44

        I'm not sure if that post was meant to be ironic, but either way thank you for documenting almost every attitude that's the cause of racial discrimination, by extrapolating your judgement on an entire race from a personal and statistically irrelevant sample for one role in one city where you admit you already had a cognitive bias for people that matched you and your peers.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

      The ‘cultural fit’ thing is the codeword for discrimination.

      It is, but not in the way you think.

      We have specific parts of our 5 step (1 call, and 2 office visits each with 2 meetings) interview process. Each stage checks different technical competencies but also has a structure of interviewers designed to reveal discrimination in areas such as age, gender, race etc.

      The candidates we reject for perceived bias, say gender bias, we tell their recruiter that the problem was a cultural fit. Its not like we have any evidence or proof of our suspicions that we'd want to damage a candidates relationship with their recruiter, so we just say "cultural fit".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Looking for ‘cultural fit' in recruitment process = discrimination-by-design

        >> We have specific parts of our 5 step (1 call, and 2 office visits each with 2 meetings) interview process.

        A typical official response. Most likely you are a recruiter who taught this in training - not something you analyzed or thought through yourself. Pardon my own bias while evaluating your statements.

        You have a '5 step interview' to find out if the candidate is 'likable' or ‘acceptable’ by all interviewers. Five step interviews - some degree of consensus without losing much productivity in the interview process. Ten step interviews - more consensus with losing some productivity. 100 step interviews - a solid good consensus with an insane amount of loss of productivity. You are just hoping, yes just hoping, that the multi-step process is going to cancel each others’ bias. But if all the interviewers have the same or similar bias, it is not going to cancel bias. Heard square peg in round hole analogy? If the candidate is square peg and all your interviewers are round holes, your multi-step process becomes useless to remove bias, irrespective of whether it is a five step interview or million step interview.

        Your multi-step interview process is nothing but a process of building consensus - consensus for 'likability' or ‘acceptability’. It does not remove bias. In fact it reinforced bias.

        >> Each stage checks different technical competencies but also has a structure of interviewers designed to reveal discrimination in areas such as age, gender, race etc.

        Your basic assumption is that your multi-step interview process is 90 percent objective - it’s primarily about evaluating ‘different technical competencies’. You are assuming that the multi-step is going to help to remove the remaining 10 percent subjective matters - bias, prejudice, interviewer’s own inexperience or incompetence etc.

        You will be surprised to know how subjective a technical interview can be, given the fact that most of the interviewers do not receive formal training to remove their bias while evaluating others’ work. There are endless ways to insert one’s own bias while evaluating technical aspects.

        Keep in mind that there are candidates, even if they are in minority groups, who are going to excel in any circumstances, including an interview with a lot of bias. On the other hand, the percentage of candidates who are going to fail in the most unbiased interview process. I am not talking about these two groups. The concern is the group somewhere in the middle who became victims of bias interview procedure.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do wish you Brits would stop referring to Indians as Asians. They are 2 totally different countries and cultures.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But they are the same continent.

      Japan and Israel are both in Asia, as are Siberia and Sri Lanka

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Facepalm

      No

      You lost that argument when you smashed into Asia 25 million years ago.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      I do wish some people would learn a little geography.

      Asia is a continent not a country, there are currently 48 countries that are in Asia.

    4. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

      "They are 2 totally different countries and cultures."

      Asia is a country now? And across all of India AND Asia there's only one culture each? Hmm. Interesting take on geography.

    5. lglethal Silver badge
      Facepalm

      That you seem to believe that Asians excluding India have a single culture seems to say a lot about your understanding of the Asian continent.

      That belief is very insulting to pretty much everyone in Asia...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I do wish you Brits would stop referring to Indians as Asians.

      It seems to me to be an American failing to lump a number of different races under the "Asian" term.

      Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani and so on are all identified as Asian.

      1. Cliffwilliams44

        Well, at least we've stopped using the term Oriental! That is more than likely to get you punched in the face!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What do you mean, "Brits"? The state of the art US census recognizes five racial groups, which are white, black, Asian, native and Hawaiian.

    8. Alister Silver badge

      Indians are Asians, they live in the geopolitical area called Asia, as do Pakistanis, Nepalese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Malayan, Mongolian etc, etc.

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    When Facebook says you're not a good 'culture fit'...

    ... take it as a compliment.

    I'm not exactly reeling at the suggestion an enterprise based on inciting its users to reinforce each other's prejudices might possibly have discriminatory practices. Not that Facebook's general toxicity is reason to downplay the complaint.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just a race thing

    "Promotion, or the lack of it

    The end result of all this, the complaint argues, is that Black applicants and workers are repeatedly discriminated against inside Facebook. Venezsee says he has “struggled to receive a fair evaluation and receive a promotion,” despite stellar reports. He notes that he has “never had a Black person evaluate his performance or determine whether he should be considered for a promotion.”

    You get that type of issue even without race at points. Being a contract engineer for 10 years in the same company and decided I wanted to be perm. Finally a engineer role appeared. I got glowing reviews from all customers, I answered all the tech questions correctly, even my interview went really well and I hate interviews (my ex manager was in the interview and said it went well).

    Next thing I hear "Sorry but you didn't get the role. You answered one of the interview questions incorrectly." Which one? "The customer service question". What?! But that was a REAL example, within the company that meant a days trading happened and you didn't loose money, so how was that incorrect.(I later found out that was a lie. And I have HR to thank for that. Thank fuck for recording ability on mobiles and clueless HR staff members)

    Cocks. Then I find they've now hired someone from the otherside of the world. Someone who doesn't have 10 years experience within the company doing the exact role I had been doing and applied for. Somone who was allowed to complete their interview via video chat because...they weren't even in the fucking country yet. And only had a 2 year visa!

    They eventually join, I speak to them, they are confused as why I didn't get it having been there 10 years, they knew all the users gave me good reviews. Its all fucked. I left, she left after her visa ran out and went back to her country.

    All fucked up. I'm not a person of colour. They aren't a person of colour. Sometimes it just happens because the management and/or company are just CUNTS.

    1. sev.monster
      Boffin

      Re: Not just a race thing

      "Culture fit" AND diversity hire ideals are both incredibly easily and often automatically racially and ethnically discriminatory. If discrimination will happen no matter which camp you belong to, let's at least discriminate positively, like "whoever is the best at this job gets the promotion": Screw your race, ethnic background, sex, and any other category, I don't care, just do the job and do it well. And if people are mad there aren't enough of X race at the job, blame the education system and the parents, not the company.

      But that's just me.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook

    A great pile of steaming horse shit.

    I've never used it, and I never will.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook

      For a non user it seems it still has its tentacles around you since you saw the term Facebook in this article - essentially about systemic racism - and you RACED to tell us ALL ABOUT your Facebook usage status with nary a stray word for the actual subject at hand!

  8. Mark192 Bronze badge

    "Facebook failed to consider their complaints, passed them off as the result of inexperienced managers, and then spent time trying to find out who had written the post."

    Says it all.

    1. Richard Jones 1
      WTF?

      Crap Book, Crap Company

      @Mark192 Perhaps they did not put it on bumbook oops sorry Facebook as Mark Z expected them to do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crap Book, Crap Company

        .... "bumbook"? Really?

        1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: Crap Book, Crap Company

          I agree with your objection!

          FaceBum scans much better...

          1. sev.monster

            Re: Crap Book, Crap Company

            Bumbook sounds like something your grandpa would call that magazine you kept under the matress as a kid, while FaceBum is a femdom power move.

  9. iron Silver badge

    Personally I'd think being not offered or hired for jobs at Facebook a good thing.

    If I were offered a job at Facebook I'd turn it down through the tears of laughter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
    2. myithingwontcharge

      Bit confused by the downvotes on @iron's post. I'm guessing it's because the voters know Facebook never offers people with integrity jobs.

  10. NerryTutkins

    race or class

    Undoubtedly there is racial bias, but it's not just about race, 'culture fit' is a broad term used to discriminate on a whole bunch of factors, including schooling, accent and class. There are some companies which may not be racist or sexist, but may still discriminate based on your background etc.

    I went to a couple of selection procedures for jobs in my 20s where after acing the first days initial selection (which was a series of exams and aptitude tests), I got invited back for final selection days. Only to turn up and realize nearly all the existing staff running the events were private school and ex-Army officers. One even pointed this out in her introduction as she obviously noticed all their intros suggested similar background, joking it was not a requirement.

    It seemed clear to me the 'culture fit' aspect is more about people being able to select 'people like me'. You still need to pass the initial selections, so they are still hiring on merit in that respect. It's just that when they've got that group, they naturally interview them and have a bias towards people with the same background as themselves. I imagine racial and gender bias is more visible, but quite possibly the black or asian candidates being rejected are done so not because of their ethnicity, but because they also don't share the preferred middle/upper class background.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: race or class

      It seemed clear to me the 'culture fit' aspect is more about people being able to select 'people like me'.

      It's tribalism, and often accompanied by some sort of supremacist perspective. If you don't tick their boxes you won't be getting in no matter how suited for a role you are. Those who do get in will inevitably be happy with how things are.

      This is what makes systemic discrimination such a tough nut to crack.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: race or class

      >> It seemed clear to me the 'culture fit' aspect is more about people being able to select 'people like me'.

      100% true. Companies don't try to hide it. It's like corporate version of fraternity house - you have to fit in.

      Any company brags about 'cultural fit' in recruitment process, I take it as big red flag.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: race or class

        I have been to a couple of interviews in the past where part of the opening blarb from the interviewer explaining 'Who we are', they have said' We like to think of ourselves as one big family here.

        That would be my exit point. When I used to go to interviews ( now retired), I always considered the potential employer had to succeed as much with my questions as I with theirs.

        I have never had to listen to someone talking about 'culture fit', a good thing as I would have laughed in their face.

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    "Silicon Valley has long conceded that it needs to improve the diversity of its staff,"

    And this is where the problem begins. Letting idiots dictate what your hiring policy is opens the door to idiots thinking they dictate your hiring policy. It is irritating to hear the word diversity thrown around at the dumbest level (racism) when diversity of thought is surely the defining criteria.

    "He notes that he has “never had a Black person evaluate his performance or determine whether he should be considered for a promotion.”"

    What a racist. Why is the skin colour of the evaluator relevant to their capacity to evaluate? If it is then that person (evaluator) is a racist but doesnt mean a black man should only be evaluated by a black man. And I say man because the next step will be gender, then it will be sexual orientation and so on.

    "in no small part because its products and services are used universally"

    Now this is the part that rules out the stupidity of the line I quoted first. No. Sod off with your racist diversity and start your own company if you think skin colour makes it better. Shove your wet dreams of dividing people by race, gender, pronoun, hair colour and trying to dictate quotas. The products are widely used because they already appeal to the various divisions in the real world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      "What a racist. Why is the skin colour of the evaluator relevant to their capacity to evaluate? If it is then that person (evaluator) is a racist but doesnt mean a black man should only be evaluated by a black man. And I say man because the next step will be gender, then it will be sexual orientation and so on."

      I would disagree with you on that point. Surely if he is getting passed up for positions he feels he is highly qualified, he is entitled to opine that it just might be possible his skin color was a factor in the decision making. Hence, he would like to see if a black interviewer would have resulted in a different outcome.

      I appreciate we both can read the same paragraph and come to different conclusions, but it helps to take a step back and consider your interpretation might be a tad bit off the mark. After all, he wasn't demanding he only be interviewed by a person of color, rather he was simply highlighting a fact.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @AC

        "I would disagree with you on that point. Surely if he is getting passed up for positions he feels he is highly qualified, he is entitled to opine that it just might be possible his skin color was a factor in the decision making. Hence, he would like to see if a black interviewer would have resulted in a different outcome."

        Which is racist. As I said if a person judges him on colour that is racist, but there are others there who can evaluate him. Insisting the evaluator must be black to overlook skin colour is to be and accuse racism. If a black interviewer promoted him while others didnt that could also be racism.

        I have no problem with the idea that an evaluator could be racist but then the argument is for another evaluator, not someone based on race.

        I did enjoy reading your reply and hopefully your interpretation is the one he intended.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "He notes that he has “never had a Black person evaluate his performance or determine whether he should be considered for a promotion.”"

      What a racist.

      I disagree. I would question if racism were at play if I were only ever evaluated by people of a particular race or there were no other races in a position to do such evaluations.

      There is a significant difference between 'Why am I never evaluated by a Black person?' and insisting 'I must only be evaluated by a Black person'. I don't see that he is demanding the latter.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @Jason Bloomberg

        "There is a significant difference between 'Why am I never evaluated by a Black person?'"

        My assumption based on the article is that there isnt one in a position to evaluate him. If the company is made up of white and asian with a low portion of Black then it limits the availability of a particular skin colour.

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge

    The now disbanded Royal Ulster Constabulary was comprised of members of one NI community. Similarly applied in several of their industries (ship building comes to mind).

    Recruitment was people in place only appointing people like themselves, often after recommendation by people already in place. ( and being actively hostile to others).

    There are countless examples of this. It's why it's usually banned.

    "Cultural fit " is pretty much synonymous with "People like us" because that's the only common culture shared by candidates and current employees. The outsider can not share the unique company culture, whatever that might be, until after they have joined.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Once I got offers from two startups. Both companies are in same technology domain and are working on very similar product lines. My wife and I were chatting about these two companies. We looked at the company management teams for both companies - proudly published in company websites with brief description of each executive personnel. Something I overlooked, but wife noticed. How come one management team is completely white and another management team is completely Indian - my wife questioned. Both are in exactly same domain - completing with similar products.

        These examples are not about meritocracy. It's all about who-knows-whom. 'Chemistry', fraternity, tribalism, 'cultural fit' - whatever you call it. These kind of management teams try to instill similar mindset throughout the company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "How come one management team is completely white and another management team is completely Indian"

          Assuming you are white, I guess you went with the white management company?

          You are much less likely to get promoted to a management position in the Indian company if you are not Indian - see racism works the other way too!

          I have seen Asians, of many countries, being severely racist - worse than I have ever seen a white person behave (I know that is personal experience not necessarily general).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The RUC became the PSNI.

      A senior officer in the RUC/PSNI now runs the police force here in the Republic of Ireland.

      The police force here is undergoing a badly needed "reformation".

      I have no time for the police forces, North or South but I have great admiration for the new commissioner, he works now for those that were his traditional "enemy".

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