- Facebook is aware that a group of its employees participated in a virtual walkout in response to posts by President Donald Trump on the site regarding social unrest following the killing of George Floyd and the company's response to those posts, the company confirmed to HR Dive in an email.
- The New York Times reported Monday that "dozens" of Facebook employees refused to work as both a show of support for demonstrators and a protest of the company's decision not to remove the posts. Facebook told HR Dive that it would support the employees and would not require them to use their own paid time off.
- "We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we'll continue seeking their honest feedback."
The combined pressure of a global pandemic and protests against systemic racism in policing has challenged large employers including Facebook and its competitors. At the same time, technology industry employees have organized large-scale walkouts and similar protests in recent years, drawing various responses from their employers.
For example, in 2018, Google employees walked out in protest of the company's handling of sexual harassment and assault claims, resulting in the Google's decision to change some of its internal policies including ending the use of mandatory arbitration agreements. Despite these changes, unrest at the company continued into 2020 with workers particularly criticizing the company's progress on diversity and inclusion goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has so far laid the foundation for several employee protests in the U.S., including at Amazon. The company fired one employee, Christian Smalls, who had been critical of its COVID-19 response, after Smalls attended a demonstration in violation of a paid quarantine, according to the company. Amazon has announced efforts to protect employees during the pandemic, including distribution of personal protective equipment and upping disinfection protocols. But sources who previously spoke to HR Dive said the incident should concern HR professionals, as it reflected growing public criticism of worker mistreatment and of insufficient safety measures.
Facebook's refusal to remove posts by Trump on its platform drew criticism from employees in recent days, the New York Times reported. Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook's Portal, disagreed with the decision in a tweet and said he would work "to make change happen."
The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, later announced in a post that Facebook would commit $10 million to groups working on racial justice while acknowledging that the investment alone "can't fix" racism and racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system. "We stand with the Black community — and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook previously faced allegations in 2018 from a former manager that the company was "failing" its black employees. The ex-manager also said that Facebook's HR department was "often a dead end" for black workers.