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Should Facebook’s Labor Force Reflect the Demographics of the Population?

In a recent article about Facebook’s “diversity”, a major news publication reported their employment as 69% male, 57% white, 34% Asian, 4% Hispanic  2% black and 3% other ethnics.  There was no mention of age or religion, or other important “protected” demographic categories. Their global head of diversity at Facebook said “we have a long way to go.”  Toward what?  Maybe Facebook hires a lot of Asians because, as a group, they stand out as performers in math and technology.  Maybe they hire a lot of Asians because their office is in a geographic location with high concentrations of Asians in the workforce, thus reflecting local demographics.
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Should Facebook’s labor force reflect the percentages of these protected categories in the entire population (or the global population or in their local geographic location)?  Facebook said it is trying to generate more hires for “underrepresented groups” so I take it that achieving population distributions is their goal, though the value of this is not made clear.  If we apply the same standard to all other businesses, including 6 million small employers with an average of 10 employees, the cost of achieving the “desired” distribution and the implications for the quality and productivity of the resulting workforce become serious concerns with questionable benefits.

Consider an NBA team. Its small number of players (about 15 on a team) hardly represents the population distribution. I see no seniors, no short people, relatively few whites, Asians and Hispanics, and I would guess not many of Jewish persuasion or many other religions. Shouldn’t they be held to the same standard as Facebook or any other business?  The NBA hires based on skill and performance, it probably doesn’t care much what you look like (even if owners have personal views that are disagreeable, they hire based on skill).  Any firm that purposefully does not hire the “best” workers it can find for the jobs it has regardless of what they look like or believe will underperform (as would an NBA team that hired people my age to play).

A “Stanford fellow” observed “Clearly Facebook has to step up now and so something about these numbers.”  Really?  Well, I can barely use my cell phone, but I am available for one of the “senior” slots in their new demographically correct labor force.  Pressuring firms (or requiring it as some wish to do) to structure their labor force to match some politically determined distribution will diminish the productivity of the work force and the performance of our economy.  Firms must be able to hire the best workers available if we are to get the most out of our resources.


william dunkelberg

This article was written by William Dunkelberg from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, your workspace to find and hire great people.

Ryan Salerno