It can be easy to forget that even a company as hugely successful as Facebook still faces workforce issues and has opportunities to develop and improve its workforce. The purpose of the present essay is to select a workforce issue at Facebook and then analyze this issue in terms of the Bechet workforce planning model (Bechet, 2008). The issue that will be the focus of the present essay is diversity growth in Facebook's New York office within the software engineering department. Normal growth consists of 400 hires per year in the department, but current diversity growth would seem to be less than 1 percent, year on year. A workforce planning model based on Bechet's model will thus solve for diversity growth issues with respect to Black, Lantix, and veteran diversity pillars. The essay will be organized around the key steps of Bechet's workforce planning model.
A lack of diversity in Facebook's New York office is the key staffing issue that is being addressed in the present essay. Facebook has been getting negative publicity for the relatively small number of women and minorities who work for the company: in 2016, "the share of Hispanic and black employees in the company's workforce didn't budge from a year ago, remaining at 4% and 2%, respectively. The percentage of women at Facebook inched up 1 percent point to 33%" (Wells, 2016, para. 2). This is not impressive, to say the least, and it has got observers questioning the extent to which Facebook is in fact committed to pursuing the key value of workplace diversity. Facebook has tried to defend itself by suggesting that the problem is actually with the workforce pipeline (that is, an unavailability of qualified women and minorities for posts in the New York office), but an analysis of the numbers of graduates suggests that this is probably untrue.
Workforce diversity is an important issue for Facebook for several reasons. First of all, Facebook plays an important role in the lives of the vast majority of Americans today, and increasingly, customers want to support companies that support important social and ethical values. Diversity is one of the most important of those values. This means that embracing diversity would be a good way for Facebook to enhance its value proposition and enhance brand loyalty by burnishing its image among customers by taking on social responsibility (Porter & Kramer, 2006). Strictly from a business standpoint, then, it would be a good idea to embrace values that are shared by a very large number of customers of Facebook, and diversity is clearly one such value. By enhancing workplace diversity, Facebook can claim the progressive cutting edge even while remaining a huge and successful business.
It is worth noting that other major tech companies, such as Google, have been characterized by a robust embrace of the value of workplace diversity. For example, in the incident regarding James Damore, Google fired their employee because they believed that his ideas would not only create a hostile workplace for women but would also detract from the likelihood of women pursuing educations in computer science and/or careers at Google (Lee, 2018). This move was generally applauded by liberals and condemned by conservatives, but it is a good example one way or the other of a tech company embracing the value of workplace diversity and taking active steps to change the status quo. Given that a company such as Google has such diversity encouragement policies, other tech companies such as Facebook would naturally be measured by the same standard in the public's eyes. The question would be: if Google can manage to encourage diversity, then why should Facebook be unable to do so? In short, when other major tech companies work toward workplace diversity, they also set standards that Facebook would be expected to meet.
Moreover, it is worth noting that diversity is important in a workplace due to the simple fact that people from different demographic backgrounds tend to have different experiences of the world, including different approaches for identifying and solving problems (Collins & Bilge, 2016). This means that workplace diversity could, in general, be expected to enhance workplace robustness and synergy. If everyone from the workplace is from the same demographic background, then the human resources of the workplace would at the empirical level be considerably weaker than if there were many different perspectives represented in the workplace. In other words, the focus on workplace diversity could prove to be important for Facebook not only for purposes of public relations or enhanced value proposition. It could also be valuable at the operational level itself, with increased diversity in the workforce actually improving Facebook's performance as a company.
Furthermore, Facebook has gained an outsized role in American public life and the ways in which most Americans access information on the Internet. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has recently had to testify before Congress in order to ensure that Facebook is not having a generally negative effect on America's civic health (Verkhivker, 2018). In this context, the threats faced by Facebook and the threats presented by Facebook could clearly be mitigated if the workforce of Facebook was more representative of the American people as a whole. Facebook, as a company in the private sector, is not required to meet such requirements of representation. However, both for the reasons discussed above and in light of the enormous effect that Facebook has on American public life, it would be an important gesture of goodwill on the part of the company to pursue workforce diversity initiatives. This would both be the right thing to do as well as the best way to secure Facebook's good name as the company moves into the future.
After committing to improving workforce diversity, Facebook would have to develop measurable objectives regarding targets to which the company should aspire. For example, would Facebook's ideal be to achieve 3-percent year on year growth in the employment of women, minorities, and veterans at the New York office? If so, this should be clearly determined, and then quotas should be established with respect to how many actual hires per year the achievement of such a target would require. As Bechet (2008) has indicated: "identify the issue to be addressed or the job categories on which your model will focus" (p. 116). The present essay has specifically focused on diversity in Facebook's New York office with respect to the categories of women, minorities, and veterans. With that conceptualization in place, the next step is to operationalize the framework into actual numbers that can then be used to objectively evaluate staffing gaps.
Staffing gaps could be considered in terms of not only the sheer number of different employees from different backgrounds who are employed but also the levels of management at which those employees are to be found. For example, O'Connor (2017) has indicated that while women have been making some advances in the Facebook workforce, if the analysis is shifted to higher levels of management, the company still remains overwhelming male (and more specifically white male). When conducting a gap analysis, then, it may prove to be necessary to focus not only on the raw numbers of employment but also at the relative levels of employment. After all, a company in which there is a substantial number of women in the workforce but all the women are shut out of leadership positions could not really be said to be truly keeping with the spirit of social justice and diversity. An analysis of representation by position may thus also be necessary.
For present purposes, it may not be necessary to specifically define the numbers that will be the targets for year-on-year growth in diversity. Identifying such numbers would probably require more research on the ground, and that would exceed the scope of the present essay. Rather, for present purposes, it may suffice to simply say that sustainable metrics must be found, and Facebook recruitment policy must then be adjusted with an eye toward achieving those metrics. At this point, whether Facebook wants to work toward hiring 40% women or 50% women is a somewhat academic question, and diversity need not mean that the workforce has to exactly reflect the demographic breakdown of the American population as a whole. The most salient point for present purposes is that Facebook must strive to improve the numbers for women, minorities, and veterans not only in terms of raw hires but also in terms of representation in leadership positions.
A word may also be in order at this juncture about the concept of viewpoint diversity. This aspect of diversity falls beyond the scope of the present essay, but it may prove to be an important one for Facebook in the near to mid-future. This has to do with the fact that political conservatives are increasingly claiming that Facebook engages in discrimination against their views (Schwartz, 2018). It is unclear whether this is in fact actually happening. What is clear, though, is that the organizational culture of Facebook is highly liberal and progressive and that if Facebook's workforce is to represent a broad cross-section of America, then it is undeniably true that about half of all Americans are conservative. In the same sense that hiring people from different demographic backgrounds could improve the robustness of the company by introducing new perspectives into the workforce, specifically selecting for people from different ideological backgrounds could also have the same effect. Naturally, efforts would have to be taken to establish some boundaries (for example, Facebook probably should not hire a white supremacist in the name of viewpoint diversity), but the range of socially acceptable views and opinions may be quite a bit broader than what is currently represented in Facebook's workforce. Again, though, this is a consideration for another time, since the central focus of the present essay consists of the diversity pillars of women, blacks, Latinx, and veterans.
According to Bechet (2008), there are two elements that need to be considered as part of an effective implementation framework: the first is scope, and the second is an impact. For present purposes, the scope will involve an entire department at the New York office of Facebook, so the scope can be said to be fairly broad. The impact, though, may be relatively light, given that the changes that would be required would in some respects be incremental improvements on efforts that have already been underway at Facebook. For example, Facebook has already been pursuing workplace diversity, making statements such as the following in company reports: "Diversity is critical to our success as a company. People from all backgrounds rely on Facebook to connect with others, and we will better serve their needs with a more diverse workforce" (Williams, 2018, para. 2). This suggests that the efforts that will need to be taken in order to address the workforce gaps identified above would be new more in terms of degree than in terms of kind. That is, Facebook needs to step up its efforts in this regard, but it appears that the company is already aware of and working on the general issue. Greater motivation to pursue the issue and awareness of the importance of the issue may be required, but the general consideration of the issue as such would be completely novel for Facebook. This means that the new initiative that is required can build on previous, existing elements of organizational culture and that some degree of goodwill with respect to the initiative may already exist within the current Facebook workforce.
When it comes to implementing a vision-driven initiative to fill an organizational gap, effective leadership is crucial. Regarding an initiative to enhance workplace diversity, transformational leadership may be an effective way to proceed, given that this leadership paradigm is known for generating trust among the employees of an organization (Goodwin, Whittington, Murray, & Nichols, 2011). Trust could prove to be important when it comes implementing a diversity enhancement initiative, given that such an initiative could potentially be seen as a form of affirmative action among at least some of the employees of the company. As MacDougald (2017) has pointed out, there would seem to be a close connection between affirmative action policies on the one hand and white resentment on the other, such that the presence of affirmative action policies often has a way of triggering white resentment. Care should be taken to ensure that such internal fractures do not emerge within Facebook as the company pursues workforce diversity.
Again, transformational leadership may be effective at averting such an eventuality. This is because transformational leadership both unites all employees under the banner of a shared vision and also allows for managers and leaders to provide individualized consideration for each and every individual employee (Burns, 2004). This could help cultivate the right kind of organizational culture in which personal resentments will be minimized and people would thus be more likely to be accepting of opportunities extended to others since they would feel secure in the opportunities they already have for themselves. A key precursor to the implementation of an effective workforce diversity enhancement initiative, then, may consist of addressing the organizational culture and leadership style that are present within the New York office of Facebook. This could also help Facebook grow into its role as not just a tech company but also a cultural leader.
In addition, insofar as there is a legitimate problem with the workforce pipeline (i.e. an inadequate pool of talent with respect to women, minorities, and veterans), Facebook is in a position to develop programs to address that as well. Romm (2017), for example, has indicated that Facebook has contributed several million dollars to federal pushes for improving access to computer science education. In addition to such contributions, Facebook could also develop its own programs to provide women, minorities, and veterans with access to computer science education. Indeed, given the level of resources currently at Facebook's disposal, there is no reason that the company could not establish internal campuses that are specifically geared toward training prospective employees in the knowledge and skills that would be required to meet with success within the Facebook workforce. In short, Facebook does not really have a right to complain about an inadequate workforce pipeline, given that Facebook surely has the resources to develop its own pipelines.
The main issue that has been selected for the present analysis consists of a lack of workplace diversity at Facebook's New York office. The purpose of a change initiative would be to increase the percentage of women, minority, and veteran employees who work at the office. In addition, a secondary goal can be to have a greater representation of those groups at higher levels of leadership. The key problem for present purposes consists of the fact that workplace diversity at Facebook's New York office is either not increasing at all or increasing at too slow of a rate when considered year-on-year. Therefore, the staffing issue needs to be addressed by developing an effective plan that will enable Facebook to recruit greater numbers of employees from the selected demographic groups.
The staffing gap consists of the fact that at Facebook's New York office, the share of women and minority employees in the workforce is virtually not increasing at all year-on-year (Wells, 2016). So, a key staffing gap consists of this very fact. In order to resolve the staffing gap, there would need to be an increase in the percentage of women and minority employees at Facebook's office over the course of the coming years. A specific target that can be identified here is that representation of women, minorities, and veterans in the workforce should increase by 10 percent over the course of the next 5 years, with an ideal rate of 2 percent increase per year. This would bring the workforce diversity of Facebook into closer congruence with the actual demographic proportions within America as a whole. Again, this will be good for Facebook as a company for the reasons discussed earlier in the present essay and that can be found in the text above.
A key staffing strategy that can be implemented by Facebook consists of quotas. Facebook must take care not to discriminate against any applicants for positions on any basis, but the company should also develop its own version of an affirmative action program, whereby certain employee "seats" are reserved for people from certain demographic backgrounds. Given that the target metrics in question are based on percentages, hiring one man and one woman would result in a net percentage change of zero, which means that over the course of the next five years, Facebook would need to adopt a policy of hiring more women, minority, and veteran employees than employees who do not qualify for any of these categories. Facebook should declare workplace diversity as a priority and justify affirmative action policy on the basis of this commitment to diversity.
A specific action that could be taken by Facebook is to perpetually monitor demographic ratios within the workplace when engaged in a season of hiring new employees. If the target is to improve workplace diversity by 2 percent (for each relevant category) each year for 5 years, then the company would have to work toward ensuring that this goal is met by the end of each year. This means that if (for example) the percentage of women in the company has remained the same over the course of the year, then the company would have to develop new positions and ensure that it fills those positions with women by the end of the year. An alternative would be to find ineffective male employees, fire them, and then hire women employees to take those positions. The main point here is that it is necessary for Facebook to carefully track how each and every new hire affects the overall ratios with respect to workplace diversity. For example, hiring a male veteran would improve the ratio regarding veterans but also harm it with respect to the balance of men and women within the company. Facebook should openly factor these considerations into its hiring decisions. If workplace diversity is considered an end in and of itself, then there would be no way to achieve that goal except to adopt monitoring plans of this kind.
In summary, the present essay has consisted of an analysis of the state of Facebook's workforce. The essay focused on the issue of workforce diversity and developed a strategic staffing analysis with respect to improvements that could be made in this regard at Facebook's New York office. It has been pointed out here that while Facebook is already paying at least some attention to the selected issue, year-on-year diversity growth needs to be improved. Following Bechet's (2008) model, the present essay has made suggestions regarding how Facebook could make this happen.
Bechet, T. P. (2008). Strategic staffing. New York, NY: AMACOM.
Burns, J. M. (2004). Transformational leadership. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Collins, P. H, & Bilge, S. (2016). Intersectionality. New York, NY: Polity.
Goodwin, V. L., Whittington, J. L., Murray, B., & Nichols, T. (2011). Moderator or mediator? Examining the role of trust in the transformational leadership paradigm. Journal of Managerial Issues, 23(4), 409-425.
Lee, T. B. (2018, January 9). Google fired James Damore for a controversial gender memo— now he's suing. Ars Technica. Retrieved from https://arstechnica.com/tech- policy/2018/01/lawsuit-goes-after-alleged-anti-conservative-bias-at-google/
MacDougald, P. (2017, August 30). Affirmative action in a time of white resentment. The American Interest. Retrieved from https://www.the-american- interest.com/2017/08/30/affirmative-action-time-white-resentment/
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Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2006/12/strategy-and-society-the-link-between-competitive-advantage- and-corporate-social-responsibility
Romm, T. (2017, September 26). Amazon, Facebook and others in tech will commit $300 million to the White House's new computer science push. Recode. Retrieved from https://www.recode.net/2017/9/26/16364662/amazon-facebook-google-tech-300-million- donald-trump-ivanka-computer-science
Schwartz, O. (2018, December 4). Are Google and Facebook really suppressing conservative politics? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/04/google-facebook-anti-conservative-bias-claims
Verkhivker, A. (2018, April 23) Zuckerberg testifies before Congress and now everyone is worried tech's too dominant. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexverkhivker/2018/04/23/zuckerberg-testifies-before- congress-and-now-everyone-is-worried-techs-too-dominant/#380e10b5b44a
Wells, G. (2016, July 14). Facebook blames lack of available talent for diversity problem. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-blames-lack-of-available-talent-for-diversity-problem-1468526303
Williams, M. (2018, July 12). Facebook 2018 diversity report: Reflecting on our journey. Facebook. Retrieved from https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/07/diversity-report/
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