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Facebook Offers to Help You Fight Your Race and Gender Biases

Facebook isn't a poster child for diversity, but at least it's trying.


The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is turning to Facebook for help, apparently.

The social network is throwing around a little knowledge for companies looking to combat the lack of gender and racial diversity that seems to plague every shared workspace in Silicon Valley. Facebook encourages all its employees to take a two-hour, in-person training course on fighting “unconscious bias.” More than half of its global workforce has taken the course, and now it’s putting a condensed version online for others to use.

The course is intended to correct the biases you didn’t know you have. As COO Sheryl Sandberg explained in a Facebook post Tuesday, “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.”

Does Facebook’s offer to teach others highlight a twinge of hubris? Sure. Facebook is no poster child for diversity. Well over half (68 percent) of Facebook’s employees are male, and 94 percent of its tech roles are held by white or Asian employees.

But it’s hard to knock a company that’s offering up more than just lip service to the problem.

“It isn’t that we’ve figured it out or we have all the answers, but I would like to think that we’re at a moment in time when any company that feels like it has something that’s working will share it back with the ecosystem,” Lori Goler, Facebook’s head of HR, told Re/code. “It’s not a competition, it’s part of making the entire industry better.”

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