The Facebook Phenomenon: Can Businesses Break the Bubbles?

When we last chatted, we repeated a proclamation that “business unites. ”If this is true, then business is not doing a very good job. This answer begs the question, “Why not?” In a recent NPR broadcast, a reporter shared information and feedback about Facebook’s efforts to improve diversity in their company and enhance inclusion. Their source for the report was a recently departed internal recruiter for the company. “Abysmal” was the word used to describe their results thus far, though the source was hyper-enthusiastic about joining the company and this diversity effort.

The report, and more importantly, this phenomenon indicate that what we currently do to enhance diversity and inclusion in business is insufficient for success. The report shared a couple of reasons why Facebook has been so unsuccessful in this effort so far. One obstacle they report is the scorecard for recruiting after making a public diversity pledge and oath is all about the numbers. A recruiter gets to retain their employment if they hit certain diversity recruiting metrics by targeting people of color. The Facebook source indicates much of identifying one’s ethnicity and gender any more is guess work. Most people are not sharing race or ethnicity information for fear of being discriminated against, so a recruiter at Facebook must guess at one’s gender and ethnicity. Their accuracy is not good and so metrics to hit the “bogey” for recruiting people of color frequently miss the mark.

Facebook associates the other major obstacle with culture. Their point is good, but I don’t believe culture is used in the right context here. The report argues that attempts to recruit from within current Facebook ranks through referrals (in most companies, this is one of the most efficient and effective ways to recruit) yields nothing but the same Caucasian-rich, Asian-heavy applicant pool that currently line the cubes and offices of Facebook. The factions in which we live become our fertile yet limited recruiting grounds, generating the same type of applicants we have for the same types of positions.

Fear of discrimination is a legitimate obstacle to diversity, both pre-employment and post-employment. The latter obstacle points to the core problem for both. We live in factions. We as Americans have sorted ourselves into like-minded, like-thinking, like-believing groups that hear and experience nothing but our like-voice feedback loop. We do this to fit in, yet we’ve lost our true selves and our true belonging. Doubt me? Read Braving the Wilderness by Dr. Brene Brown. Our fear of being known and belong anywhere trumps our need for the security found in fitting in, and so our comfort zone shrinks to those who look, act, and think just like us.

The answer? Be brave, opt for some risk, and go meet, listen to, and talk to someone very different from you. Expect this: your knowing will expand, and love will fill in the spaces. Your comfort zone will expand and you will have a much richer pool of candidates from which to recruit? How might you create these types of opportunities in your business?

Image: quaries official Flickr.

Dave Geenens

Dave Geenens

Dave Geenens is an Associate Professor and is the Assistant Director of the Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics in the School of Business at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. His over 30-years of executive experience in addition to his Bachelor’s Degree, MBA, and CPA license (inactive) add a realism to his research and teaching. Dave has written four books and speaks often on the integration of faith and work and the critical role Christian virtue plays in protecting free markets and liberty. Since Dave writes on multiple topics including investing and philanthropy, nothing in this article is to be construed as investment advice and any investment of any kind includes a risk of loss.