Facebook: not that diverse, not that inclusive
On Tuesday morning, former Facebook Strategic Partner Manager Mark S. Luckie published a personal account of his experience working on boosting underrepresented voices on the platform. The memo, which Luckie circulated throughout the company earlier this month before making it public, contains a detailed analysis of the ways Facebook is failing not only its black users, buts its black employees.
Luckie’s main thesis is that the myriad shortcomings of Facebook’s relationship with the black community — which he notes is one of the platform’s most dedicated user bases — won’t be fixed until the company shows a real commitment to diversity that goes beyond filling a quota. “It is not enough to simply hire people to focus on diversity,” Luckie wrote. “Everyone on teams whose work focuses on varied cultural backgrounds should be responsible for ensuring the outcome of their work is representative of those groups.”
A key problem he identifies is that executives and managers often act as if the work of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is complete after the hiring process. According to Luckie, much more focus needs to be put into employee retention instead of just recruitment. It’s hard to keep employees invested and energized if they suffer repeated social and material indignities because of their race. Facebook and other tech companies have often said that the lack of diversity within their ranks is a “pipeline” issue, but the fact that few black students matriculate into Stanford does not cause the alienating experience Luckie and others have had at companies like Facebook.
Luckie says that lip service needs to turn into tangible action in order for Facebook to improve its relationship with people of color in-house and in the community. “‘We’re thinking about it’ can only hold us over for so long,” Luckie wrote. “Facebook can’t engender the trust of its black users if it can’t maintain the trust of its black employees.”