Today, Mark S. Luckie, a former manager at Facebook, posted a memo about how Facebook treats its Black employees. In the memo, Luckie indicates that “Black people are finding that their attempts to create ‘safe spaces’ on Facebook…are being derailed by the platform itself.” Luckie explained claims of mistreatment in more detail throughout the memo mentioning that Black people’s content has been removed without notice. Luckie also mentioned that underrepresented groups have been excluded on both Instagram and Facebook, with less visibility and access given to them. He went on to also explain that increasing diversity does not solve the inclusion issue; diversity without inclusion is ineffective. Luckie also explained how microaggressions have created hostile work environments to many different Facebook employees he’s spoken to. When employees complain and report these issues to Human Resources (HR), they are made to feel as if the incidents are “a figment of [their] imagination.” Some Black employees may be hesitant to express their feelings about the mistreatment for fear of losing their job or retaliation. Despite the efforts Facebook has made to be more inclusive (employee resource groups, their diversity team), the company is unsuccessful at truly fostering a culture of inclusion for its Black employees.
How can the tech industry foster not only a more diverse environment but also a more inclusive environment that is more welcoming to Black people and other underrepresented groups?
- The first step in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment is conducting an audit of the current diversity climate within the organization. Enlist the opinions of employees, as well as customers, on how to improve different aspects of the organization. Luckie suggested implementing focus groups with people of color, which is an excellent suggestion. Focus groups can play a fundamental role in helping organizations assess how to make their products and services better. If multiple users are complaining about a specific issue (i.e. Black Facebook and Instagram user posts being removed and accounts being suspended), this should be addressed and dealt with.
- Luckie mentioned one solution is cultural competency training. An addition to this suggestion is that the training should be done on a frequent and ongoing basis. Research indicates that diversity training is successful when it is delivered over a significant period of time. Training can also impact the frequency of microaggressions, making the workplace a more inviting environment. Leaders should be required to participate in training, as well as each staff member in the organization.
- Diversity goes beyond just the numbers. The attraction of diverse talent is just one piece of the puzzle. The often more challenging aspect of diversity is figuring out how to foster a culture of inclusion for all. Are you allowing diverse talent to have a seat at the table? Assess team-building activities in the organization. Is everyone invited to the after-work events and parties? What is being done in the organization to foster interpersonal connections? Evaluate what is currently being done and figure out what could be done better.
- HR departments are often the first line of defense when employees feel that they’ve been mistreated. The HR department should have a clear plan for addressing these issues. Complaints made should be investigated and examined frequently. If there is a consistent or recurring claim being made, it should be dealt with. Luckie suggested creating “internal systems for employees to anonymously report microaggressions.” This can be an effective strategy. Employees may want to complain or report an incident but fear it will impact their job and status at the organization. Companies may benefit from integrating an anonymous system in which employees can report issues that occur, without fears of repercussions.