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Facebook, like other top tech titans, lacks workforce diversity

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Facebook has released data on the diversity of its workforce, which paints an all-too-famliar picture. Facebook employees are predominantly male, and almost all of them are either white or Asian.

Facebook's release follows in the footsteps of Google, which made its diversity statistic public in May. LinkedIn and Yahoo did the same in response. Although Facebook officials were originally reticent about the idea, saying they weren't sure how it would benefit the Facebook and its users, the company has apparently changed its position.

Globally, Facebook employees are 69 percent male, putting it nearly even with Google at 70 percent. However, LinkedIn and Yahoo both have a slightly more even ration at 61 percent and 62 percent, respectively. In the U.S., 53 percent of the workforce is white, the same figure LinkedIn published and close to that of Yahoo. Google has more white employees at 61 percent.

Of the four major companies that have released data so far, Facebook has the largest number of Asian employees with 41 percent. This puts it just above LinkedIn and Yahoo at 38 percent and 39 percent, and well above Google's 30 percent. However, Facebook has only 3 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black employees. The other companies are 4 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black, save Google, which also has a Hispanic population of 3 percent.

As with most other tech companies, women are largely found in nontechnical positions, and 47 percent of those employees are female, compared with 15 percent of technical employees. Like the other companies, however, women do gain some ground in senior level positions, with 23 percent occupied by female employees. Also similar to other companies, Asian employees make up a large percentage of technical workers at 41 percent, but make up only 19 percent of senior-level employees.

These statistics are disheartening for diversity advocates, but Facebook assures that it is addressing the problem. It has partnered with the Anita Borg Institute as well as the National Center for Women & Information Technology to help women in technical careers find a position at the company. Facebook is also tackling the root of the problem. It's not just employees at tech companies that are mostly white and male. Graduates of technical programs at universities are overwhelmingly made up of white men as well. Facebook is working with programs such as Girls Who Code, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Engineers to help funnel underrepresented groups into technical degrees.

"Diversity is something that we're treating as everyone's responsibility at Facebook, and the challenge of finding qualified but underrepresented candidates is one that we're addressing as part of a strategic effort across Facebook," says Maxine Williams, Facebook's global head of diversity, in a statement. "We have a long way to go, but we're absolutely committed to achieving greater diversity at Facebook and across the industry."

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