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July 28, 2015

Facebook Sharing Anti-Bias Training to Help Other Companies

Facebook’s global head of diversity Maxine Williams speaks during a training session.
Facebook’s global head of diversity Maxine Williams speaks during a training session.

Facebook may still be struggling to be more diverse in its hiring, but the social network is taking some steps toward change.

The company today published a series of training videos aimed at eliminating biases in the hopes of helping more companies be inclusive of people from all walks of life.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the inspiration for the website came after Facebook was asked by other companies to share its anti-bias training.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, USA; Young Global Leader is captured during the session 'Handling Hyper-connectivity' at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 28, 2011. Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Jolanda Flubacher

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, USA; Young Global Leader is captured during the session ‘Handling Hyper-connectivity’ at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 28, 2011.
Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Jolanda Flubacher

Sandberg described the training as highly necessary and key to a more balanced workplace.

“One of the most important things we can do to promote diversity in the workplace is to correct for the unconscious bias that all of us have,” she wrote.

“Studies show that job applicants with ‘black sounding names’ are less likely to get callbacks than those with ‘white sounding names’ – and applicants called Jennifer are likely to be offered a lower salary than applicants called John. And organizations which consider themselves highly meritocratic can actually show more bias.”

Facebook itself has admitted it has a lot of work to do before it can boast a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The company’s diversity numbers in June revealed the social networking site is still primarily staffed by white and Asian males — which was also the case in 2014.

Currently, Facebook’s U.S. staff is 55 percent white and 36 percent Asian compared to last year’s 57 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Only four percent of staff is Hispanic, while two percent is black and three percent is of mixed race — exactly the same stats as last year.

There was a very slight upswing in the number of female employees — last year the social network was 31 percent female and this year that number comes in at 32 percent.

Facebook said at the time it was planning some creative ways to institute change. The new training is one of its methods.

Sandberg said Facebook worked with leading researchers to develop the course — one that “helps people recognize how bias can affect them, and gives them tools to interrupt and correct for bias when they see it in the workplace.”

The course includes case studies, workshop sessions and presentations.

“Managing bias is an essential part of building diverse and high-performing organizations,” Sandberg said. “We know we still have a long way to go, but by helping people recognize and correct for bias, we can take a step towards equality – at work, at home and in everyday life.”


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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