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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:42PM (#47078439)

    That's all. Sharing demographic and other personal data is something they've been staunchly against since their founding. The government, being entirely unbiased toward people with enough money to buy it off, has appreciated Zuckerberg's principled stance.

  • 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.

    • 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 Me

      • And what if Milan is turned down for jobs based on her appearance or gender?

        Does her race matter then?

        Going forward, whites are just as likely to suffer racial discrimination.

        There are many construction companies where you can't get a job unless you are hispanic. It's not about the pay. It's not about your skills. It's not whether you can speak spanish.

        It's flat out because a "white" won't "fit in" with a hispanic crew.

        There is a reason we made that kind of behavior illegal to begin with.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Wrong. Only whites can be racist. Jesse jacskson al Sharpton said so

        • Of course if the country (I use country generically I'm not in the US but have similar demographics issues) enforced immigration policy And mandated minimum English skills as a requisite to immigrating perhaps we wouldn't be in the situation where industries are dominated by migrant labor that can't communicate with the majority of the population. Having a preferred language outside the norm is one thing, being incapable of communicating unless government services are supplied in every language under the su

          • As I said, it has nothing to do with the ability to speak the language. You can be fluent. It doesn't matter.

            Anti-discrimination laws are not equally enforced against minorities and they discriminate like hell. They don't even think of it as discrimination or that they are doing anything wrong because they are not called on it so they don't even have to consider it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302)

        > 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."

      • I actually fought for both of my daughters to be listed as "human" - but was told that it wasn't allowed because it was facetious.

        I was never more sincere about something in my life.

        In the end, I chose "decline to state", because multi-racial was limited to only 3 choices maximum - as if there was some upper limit on how many different countries your ancestors could come from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
      • 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.

        • Not true - a white woman can have a black child (Obama), but a black woman can't have a white child (Angela Howard).

          Why do you think that is?

      • So, get rid of the label so that some bigot doesn't look at my paperwork and decide "oops, wrong race!"

        Look, you've got two versions of racial identification - self identification, and other identification. The two don't match, and aren't even *consistent within themselves*!

        Pretending that somehow we'll stop bigotry by labeling, categorizing, and dividing people into imaginary, socially constructed, arbitrary, contradictory and malleable buckets is silly.

    • Perhaps, but you don't get that defense when you start talking about "Our company ROCKS on [racial] diversity! ... but how much it rocks in that regard is a 'trade secret', yeah, that's it."

  • ...how many minorities Facebook hired between when the request was made and when they finally complied. Would be interesting to see before and after data.
    • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sabri (584428) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:56PM (#47078607)

      how many minorities Facebook hired between when the request was made and when they finally complied. Would be interesting to see before and after data.

      I don't work for Facebook, but I have been on their MPK campus as a contractor many times. I can tell you from first hand experience that Facebook is a very culturally diverse environment where everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender, is welcomed. It looks like a mini San Francisco.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      What Facebook doesn't want you to know is that the entire place is run by a single person. To comply with diversity laws they got a guy who's equal parts white, black, American Indian and Korean. He's also a left-handed lesbian Eskimo albino. I believe he finds Facebook to be a VERY diverse workplace!
  • 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.. )

    • 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 xfade551 (2627499)
        Oddly, race/ethnicity is the one piece of personal information Facebook does not ask (and nag) you for when you create an account.
    • 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?

      That depends. Are those Amercian employees willing to work for the same salary offer as those India/Pakitan/$whatever and be content? They are shooting for a cheap labor market.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858)

      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.

    • Chances are were you to look at Facebook's demographics, not only would you find it to be either white or Asian Americans or H1-B Indians, as well as lacking in American blacks and latinos, you'd also find it be a very young crowd as well. Chances are there are very few people over the age of 35 who are not in the executive class. Even then, you'd probably not find many older workers even as executives.

      Zuckerberg has made no effort to hide his disdain for older workers as well as anyone else. A disclo
    • It's not as if it's a good-ole boy's club over at the googleplex.

      Source for that statement? What if it turns out it is? Is that "none of the government's business"? Is it up to brave consumers to decide if we care or not, and apply market pressure on google by not buying their products?

      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?

      No. That's part of the problem. There are plenty

      • Don't get me wrong, I absolutely hate the entire CONCEPT of the H1B program. What got me was the implication by Waters/Jackson (and calling him a Reverend is laughable) that the ONLY reason they'd not hire more blacks is due to racist hiring practices.

        While there are a few reasons for not hiring Americans in general, and black Americans in particular -- is racism among them, considering they scour South Asia for candidates?

        Basically I think that companies like FB and Google are acting in the most sociall

        • one of your quotes is worth repeating:

          Rather than actually investing in their country (IE, find smart HS / College kids and train them) they'll go to any lengths to just import the indentured servants to do the work.

          this is a case where corporations are not acting out of long-term stability for the local economy and the government (yes, the big bad government) should step in and right this wrong. the business world is not going to self-govern in this regard and so someone more neutral has to do it. this I

        • While there are a few reasons for not hiring Americans in general, and black Americans in particular -- is racism among them, considering they scour South Asia for candidates?

          Sure. Someone could be racist towards a very specific group of people, vs racist in general.

      • by stdarg (456557)

        if a company is systematically passing over people because they are (black, female, the wrong kind of christian, etc) - it's hard to do anything about it if they never release those stats.

        Hmm I don't think so, not today anyway. Perhaps that was true a long time ago. The government already knows who works for (gets paid by) Facebook. It gets reported in W2s, 1099s, etc. They also ask your race/gender/other demographic markers on various government forms. Your driver's license and passport list some of them. So it would be pretty trivial for the government to get a good idea of it all without asking companies to keep or report their own stats.

        It wouldn't necessarily give you finer grained deta

        • That's a fascinating answer. I wonder if that data from the IRS is shared so that action could be taken? I imagine it isn't made public (imagine the uproar if it was) - so any sort of social pressure on companies for hiring practices wouldn't have data to go on.

          No company is so big that it's a significant portion of the economy... at least in America.

          - A big company hiring specialists in a field could constitute a significant portion of the market in a given city.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      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?

      I'm sorry, but you point out the answer to this dilemma which you say is a different discussion. Google, Apple, Ford, GM, Amazon, etc... can all find qualified people in America. The problem is that they don't want to pay for qualified people, which is why they piss and moan about wanting more H1Bs. Which you point out results in people working for reduced wages.

      Yes, I agree that race is a foolish thing to look at all things considered. Looking at wages when upper management is making billions is a very

    • "If google and facebook could find qualified black (or American employees in general) employees, wouldn't they do that rather than importing people"

      a) Black Americans are not just black, they are American so they do not have the specter of their visa being pulled and are likely more familiar with American law.
      b) You have assumed rational non-racist business decision and used that to prove their their business decision is rational and not racist. This is a great example of the original meaning of "begging th

  • 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?

  • Call NSA and ask them, they probably know the numbers.
  • by genner (694963) on Friday May 23, 2014 @04:58PM (#47078637)
    Racial data -> 100% human race.
    Not that hard.
  • Facebook, give and give and give data away and people want them to share more. Poor widdle facebwook!

    Yes, I am being sarcastic.

  • Jesse Jackson? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday May 23, 2014 @05:51PM (#47079103)

    You had me until Jesse Jackson got involved. That guy is a crook and an extortionist. Usually he's only interested in how diverse your company is until you donate to his rainbow push coalition. Suddenly it doesn't matter if you're diverse after that.

  • Is this guy still relevant? I guess he hasn't heard, we have a black president. This guy needs to just retire because all he does is try to get people to kiss his ass.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Friday May 23, 2014 @06:22PM (#47079325)

    When a new company makes a splash, they can expect a visit from the Jesse Jacksons of the world, running their usual shakedown.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Friday May 23, 2014 @06:37PM (#47079437)
    I would believe that neither company employs a substantial amount of African Americans. Why? Neither company has vast, low wage customer service call centers. Hence the reluctance to release numbers. If you don't have much experience working in customer service call centers, your first instinct is going to be to mod me down (understandably). If you do have a fair amount of experience working in low-wage CS call centers, you completely understand what I am talking about. I myself (unfortunately) do have quite a lot of experience working in customer service call centers, and have often been one of very few white people in a sea of African Americans as well as a lot women. The truth is, most large tech related companies hire some of amount of minorities and women. But when you look at the whole of the company, you quickly realize that minorities are routinely hired into marginalized positions, even when they are highly qualified sometimes even with a college degree. It's exclusive, but if you have seen it, you get what I mean.
  • In all seriousness if an employer operates without prejudice they may be unaware of the race, sex or ethnic group of employees either individually or in total. Should an employer send someone around to ask Juan whether he is from Portugal or Some Spanish nation? Should he ask Juan if he is really a male or a female or transgender person? How about asking if Juan is a Jew or a Catholic? And if Juan looks black but has white grandparents and one white parent he can define himself anyway he likes as t
  • Given that gender identity is now apparently whatever the individual says it is when it comes to bath- and locker-room assignments, should we all be asked to pick the race we feel most simpatico with and be that for reporting purposes?

    The last few mortgages I refinanced, I took note that the paperwork said that if I didn't disclose my race the broker would do it for me and put that on the form in my stead. So now any time I have to put down my race, I pick one at random. Since I have no idea what's back the

  • Who gives a damn how your workforce is made up, white, yellow, red, pink, blue - male / female / whatever. I don't care if it's a transgender wombat, as long as it's the right person / creature to do the job.

    • the flaw is that they don't hire based on ability anymore.

      if the group is 90% indian, guess who will get the next job in that group?

      this is the new reality and unless there is a move to fix it, it won't fix itself!

      "he's not a cultural fit" is the PC term but we all know what it really means.

  • ... I care he shares my data.

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