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Facebook Refuses To Share Employee Race and Gender Data 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the concerned-about-privacy-after-all dept.
theodp writes "Back in 2007, Representative Maxine Waters asked Google's HR Chief, "How many [of Google's employees] are African-American?" After 7+ years of stonewalling, Google has pledged to finally divulge diversity data on its workforce for the first time. While the U.S. government requires all major employers to file diversity statistics with the EEOC, Google convinced the Dept. of Labor that the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that should not have to be released to the public. Google now concedes that it has been 'reluctant to divulge that data' and 'quite frankly, we are wrong about that.' Interestingly, Facebook apparently has no such compunctions about refusing to disclose data on the racial and gender makeup of its employees, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg lobbies Congress for changes to the makeup of the U.S. workforce. Pressed on the matter by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at Facebook's annual shareholder meeting, the WSJ reports that COO and gender equality advocate Sheryl Sandberg rebuffed Jackson's request, saying, 'It's really important to share [the Facebook diversity numbers] internally, and eventually externally.'"
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Facebook Refuses To Share Employee Race and Gender Data

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  • One drop rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:43PM (#47078451)

    Race is an illusion. It's none of my employer's business where my ancestors may have hailed from.

  • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:48PM (#47078523)

    As much as I hate Facebook (and merely strongly dislike Google) why is this an issue? The implicit assumption behind this seems to be that diversity can only happen if you get people who look different in the same room. and that's nonsense.

    These are both companies that are chomping at the bit to hire h1b's who are expressly non-white and hail from overseas countries. (The fact that they get to work as indentured servants with lower than average wages is another discussion). It's not as if it's a good-ole boy's club over at the googleplex.

    If google and facebook could find qualified black (or American employees in general) employees, wouldn't they do that rather than importing people from India/Pakistan/$wherever? Implying that these companies are racist because they aren't hiring many blacks says less about facebook or google -- and more about our country. (or more accurately about Maxine Waters and Jesse Jackson playing the race card constantly to stay relevant.. )

  • Re:One drop rule? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:48PM (#47078527)

    True, but it is society's business to counter systematic discrimination, and society has decided that collecting racial statistics are relevant to this. If you don't have a problem with discrimination, campaign for a repeal of laws which are designed to monitor it - don't just break the law. Unless you have no need for society to protect your rights, of course.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:51PM (#47078565)

    Because we all know that diversity is the MOST important thing. Better have a black doctor instead of one who performs the best. Make sure that coder is a woman because even if she isn't as talented as the white male, its BETTER!!!! Because basing things off of race is RACIST..err I mean NOT BASING things off race is RACISTS err....wait what was I saying?

  • by gnupun (752725) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:57PM (#47078621)

    As much as I hate Facebook (and merely strongly dislike Google) why is this an issue?

    Why? Facebook collects and compiles detailed information about its members (starting with requiring users use their real name) but won't reveal even the most trivial information about itself... Total hypocrisy and double standards. Somehow FB's privacy is important but that of ordinary people is not.

    Also, these companies are lobbying to increase the h1b quota so knowing the demographics of their workforce is relevant.

  • by genner (694963) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:58PM (#47078637)
    Racial data -> 100% human race.
    Not that hard.
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:21PM (#47078777) Homepage Journal

    As much as I hate Facebook (and merely strongly dislike Google) why is this an issue?

    In my experience, when a corporation makes up some outlandish BS like "trade secrets" to hide information, it's because there's something worth covering up.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:23PM (#47078799)

    On my daughter's birth certificate, I was quite tempted to enter it as "who cares, what year is it, 1814?"

    When Milan gets older and asks whether she's white, black, or Mexican, I may tell her "you are Milan, that's all. You're not a group, you are you."
    If she presses me, asking where her great-great-grandparents lived, they honest answer is "A lot of places, I don't know them all. Probably some in Jamaica, some either Ireland, Scotland, or both, some in Texas somewhere , but maybe that part of Texas was Mexico at the time."

  • Re:One drop rule? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:23PM (#47078801)

    What makes you think because I didn't hire you, and you happen to be black, that I'm somehow a racist, or discriminating? Maybe I'm looking for specialized EE's with a specific field of experience to finish out a project, and your degree and experience just don't fit the position I'm looking for? Maybe you're unqualified. Maybe the graduates moving into my industry are predominantly from a single race, or predominantly not of a single race. How does that make me a racist? If you think your skin color entitles you to a job at my company, you're mistaken. Your attitude and experience do.

    How many different races a company hires to fill a quota is no sign of a lack of discrimination. Hiring qualified workers regardless of race is a sign of a discrimination-free workplace. In fact, filling a quota often causes more problems than it solves on the discrimination front.

    If my company is still 80% Caucasian, or 80% Asian, or 80% African is irrelevant to how discriminatory or not a company is. Hiring based on race is. Those are two different things. What's the diversity look like over at BET, or at your local Asian market? Do they have to meet diversity standards too? The only people that apply for some jobs are the only ones that want that job. I can't help it if a disproportionate number of those applicants are the same color.

    In a highly technical business industry I shouldn't have to seek out unqualified people in order to check a box and feel good about doing NOTHING AT ALL to solve discrimination. I should hire the most qualified applicants, and spend my efforts at diversity elsewhere, like raising STEM awareness in public schools, or offering scholarships an internships to qualified candidates. Make your workplace appealing to all comers, and you'll see diversity naturally happen. But as long as our only company appeal is "we care so much about race, we played human pokemon" we're going to have this race problem hanging around. We shouldn't have diversity guidelines at all, because as a society, we've moved past the point of thinking race actually matters, right? So why don't we act like it?

    The reason racism is still a pervasive problem is that we keep bringing it up and talking about it like it's a problem. Ignore or punish the haters, and eventually they'll die of old age or aneurysms, and we can move on with life as a whole.

    (Yes, I'm optimistic. No, I don't think this will actually work. Yes, tribalism still occurs across all races and genders and sports affiliations. No, it's still not acceptable for a civilized society.)

  • Re:One drop rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khellendros1984 (792761) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:23PM (#47078809) Journal
    Race is primarily a social construct, rather than a genetic one. Your race is still a label that bigots use as a basis for discrimination, "imaginary" or not.
  • by Threni (635302) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:55PM (#47079123)

    > When Milan gets older and asks whether she's white, black, or Mexican, I may tell
    > her "you are Milan, that's all. You're not a group, you are you."

    "Dad, do you want me to get this passport or not?".
    "Put white."

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Friday May 23, 2014 @06:00PM (#47079165)
    Judging by your post history, you are the most prolific and also the dumbest person on Slashdot.
  • by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Friday May 23, 2014 @06:48PM (#47079531) Journal
    And if I'm reading you right, you're not saying you shouldn't trust a black doctor, just that you shouldn't trust an *unqualified* black doctor. Which, because you can't tell one from the other until after the fact, as a result of affirmative action, translates to "don't trust a black doctor".

    People are going to call me a racist for this and I don't care. If someone can't piece this together for themselves and thinks my comments have anything to do with race (rather than the ludicrous, and patently racist, expectation that members of one race be judged on a different scale than members of another race), I can't be bothered to care what they think.

    Affirmative action is bullshit!

    Yes, you read that right. Affirmative action is bullshit. It only superficially helps black people who think they can't succeed without it; in reality, it only serves to help guilty racist old white guys sleep better at night. It's holding the black community back more than anything else, at this point, specifically for the reason stated at the top of this post.

    A black guy and a white guy enter your office, both have the same degree form the same school. You know the white guy got into that school on his own merits, but, because of affirmative action, you don't know whether the black guy deserved to get in, or if he was accepted to fill a quota. That's not to say the black guy couldn't have possibly gotten into that school on his own merits, just that you don't, and can't, know that he did, because you have no way of knowing whether that school needed to fill a seat with a black guy in order to comply with the law. Likewise, when you hire the black guy, your customers have no way of knowing if you hired him because of his qualifications, or to comply with the law. Were you hiring the most qualified candidate, or just filling a quota? Your customers have no way of knowing.

    All affirmative action hiring laws do is force people to hire people they don't want to and, therefore, shouldn't hire, regardless of reason.

    Put yourself in the shoes of a black man for a moment (black guys, this should be easy for you)... Without affirmative action, would you have a harder time finding a job, as a result of rampant racism? I can't answer definitively, but I'll admit the answer is likely a very loud "yes". But think about it; do you want to work for a racist company? Do you want to work for a company that only hired you because they had to? There are enough companies out there run by people who are not racist that you should be able to find a job without having to settle for working at one that is. By forcing companies to hire you based on race, affirmative action prevents that; you don't know whether the company you're working for is run by racist assholes who hired you to fill a "black seat", or if they truly did hire you based on your qualifications; regardless of your qualifications. As a result of affirmative action, you could be willingly lining the pockets of a group of racist white guys and not even know it.

    There are plenty of qualified and capable minority workers in the workforce. The trouble is, for anything that requires a higher level of trust than a cashier or cart retriever, affirmative action makes it impossible to tell, as a customer, whether the minority worker you're dealing with is actually qualified for the position until it's too late (if they're not). That's not to say every white guy who gets hired is qualified. Cronyism is definitely rampant, as well; but the fact is it's easier to fire a white guy who doesn't perform than it is to fire a minority worker for any reason, again due to affirmative action laws.

    I don't know what the solution to this problem is, but I do know that it is not affirmative action. Maybe affirmative action is the best we can do and, if that's the case, that's a really sad situation for everyone involved. I know I don't want to be treated by a less-than-qualified doctor, and so I'm forced to avoid anyone who may have been hired to fill a seat; and there's nothing racist about that.
  • Re:One drop rule? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday May 23, 2014 @07:52PM (#47080099)

    10,000 is not a statistically significant fraction of the population.

    When calculating statistical significance, the fraction of the population is irrelevant.

    So you could very well have hired 10,000 people and all of them turned out to be black by luck of the draw.

    The chance of that happening is infinitesimally close to zero. Far closer to zero than the floating point unit in your computer can handle. If the population is 10% black, the probability would be 1e-10000, while the number of subatomic particles in the observable universe is less than 1e80.

  • Re:One drop rule? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fche (36607) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:55PM (#47080803)

    "Race is primarily a social construct, rather than a genetic one."

    And yet somehow it is passed on from parents to children -- even those not socialized by those parents.

  • by laddiebuck (868690) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @07:56AM (#47082393)

    You're making a basic fallacy, and I am amazed that though you have given the matter enough thought to come up with your above rant, you have not discovered it.

    Affirmative action only matters at admissions, not further. Whether a minority student is accepted to a medical school or law school or whatever to fill a quota, they will come out the other end of that program unless they pass the highly rigorous standards. A medical student cannot be certified in the US without passing all 3 steps of the USMLE, and a residency. So you can trust your doctor or your lawyer, whatever their race. They earned their spot, and quotas didn't matter a damn when they had to sit their exams.

    Having those quotas in place is great, because it undoes generations' worth of racism that today manifests itself in socio-economic status. Affirmative action is actively trying to undo all the harm that racism and segregation have done in the past. If you are born African-American or Hispanic, you are likely to be born poorer. The police will treat you differently. Doors will be closed to you that are not to Caucasians. We need programs like Affirmative Action in place to undo all the harm that has been caused and continues to be caused.

    And out on the job market? You think race doesn't matter, and that it's all academic. Well there are countless studies that have shown that the same resume will get treated differently if submitted under a different name - a "white-sounding" name will get a lot more calls back than a "black-sounding". Extremely so - sometimes the black names (again, same resumes) will get no calls back for 15 calls back for white names.

    Racism is unfortunately well alive. Today it is mostly subconscious but it is still really harmful. From the fact that you gave this matter enough thought to come up with your rant above, and yet not discover the basic logical fallacy in it, though you seem otherwise intelligent, makes me think you have quite a bit of subconscious racism left too. It's okay if you do, many people do, especially if they are of the privileged class and never have to question their assumptions, or have cause to notice how all the doors that were open for them are not open for the unprivileged in their society. But the first step to fixing it is realizing it.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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