Ex-Facebook manager says company is 'failing its black employees' in memo
- Facebook's black users are "having their community divided by the actions and inactions" of Facebook, and the company's employment practices are partly to blame, a former strategic partner manager for global influencers wrote in a memo sent to the social media giant's employee base prior to his leaving the company.
- Mark S. Luckie, the memo's author, said Facebook's workforce has little black representation despite the company's own commissioned research showing African-American Facebook users lead other user demographics in several engagement categories. Luckie added that this lack of representation leads to black employees being asked to volunteer their input for projects in a way that "isn't sustainable." The memo also detailed instances of discrimination experienced by Luckie and others, with incidents including: comments by co-workers calling them "hostile" or "aggressive"; dissuading workers from participating in Facebook's "[email protected]" group; and being accosted by the company's campus security.
- Luckie said Facebook's HR department is "often a dead end" for black workers. "We often find ... that our experiences are rationalized away or we're made to believe these disheartening patterns are a figment of our imagination," he said. Luckie acknowledged the company's efforts to diversify its employee base but said that "[e]fforts that promote inclusion, not just diversity, are being halted at the managerial level."
The memo comes at a time of increased pressure on tech firms to improve diversity efforts at their respective workplaces. Diversity and inclusion have been a point of discussion for years — and the tech industry's struggles with it long-documented — but key players have only recently taken steps to publicly disclose their progress on this front.
What has been published has generally revealed small, incremental steps toward diversity at best. A June report by Google, for example, showed female, black and Latino representation at the company had all increased by one-tenth of a percent over the past year. Similar situations have been reported at Apple, LinkedIn, Slack and Spotify, among others. Researchers point to a variety of factors stalling progress, ranging from "diversity fatigue" to a lack of response from the industry's mostly male pool of executives.
Luckie's memo contains similar to descriptions to that of a 2015 essay he wrote regarding his experiences as a black employee at Twitter. In the 2015 piece, Luckie called the notion of culture fit "[t]he most impactful detriment to diversity in Silicon Valley," noting that policies encouraging employees to recommend friends and former colleagues for open roles can introduce bias in recruiting, depending on preferences for recommended candidates.
Luckie also included a series of recommendations for Facebook in the memo circulated November 8, suggesting that the company implement, among other things, a system for reporting microaggressions, and data-driven goals to help day-to-day operations become more reflective of user demographics. He also recommended that Facebook conduct a diversity audit.
Overall, both memos touch on several points made by HR industry leaders in the past year. Experts have previously told HR Dive that hiring from diverse groups is not enough to improve diversity in the workplace; inclusion efforts must follow. Making employees of diverse backgrounds feel welcome at work requires changes to the work environment itself, including the dynamics of teams and how organizational policies encourage employees to voice diverse perspectives. Wharton professor Adam Grant told HR professionals at a 2018 event that the idea of culture fit can harm workplace culture by unintentionally silencing employees with perspectives that counter the status quo of an organization.
Worse yet, inability to improve diversity metrics could hurt recruiting efforts and employer brand even further in coming years; Indeed and other job boards recently announced an effort to incorporate D&I ratings directly onto company pages on their platforms.
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