Facebook has publicly committed to the fight against racism, but there are concerns that do not translate into its recruiting practices. Reuters sources say the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating possible “systemic” racism in Facebook hires and promotions. Facebook program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and four candidates allegedly accused the social network of discriminating against black candidates and staff through subjective ratings and pushing racial stereotypes. Three of the people brought the case in July 2020, and a fourth joined in December.
The EEOC called in investigators for systemic cases by August 2020, but they have only received information from both sides of the case in the past four months.
While the extent of the alleged violations is unclear, one of the policies at issue stems from hiring bonuses. The company hands out up to $ 5,000 in bonuses if a referred candidate is hired, but those referrals tended to reflect existing employee demographics and disadvantage black applicants (who made up 3.9% of U.S. employees as of last June) .
There is no guarantee that the EEOC investigation will lead to formal action. The Commission declined to comment, but Facebook said it took accusations of discrimination “seriously” and was investigating “every case”.
This is not the first time that the hiring of Facebook has come under fire. In 2017, a Bloomberg report pointed out that a handful of executives typically made the final hiring decisions and tended to use metrics that favored culturally similar candidates, such as people approved by existing staff or those who have attended certain schools. Facebook claimed it had diverse recruiting teams that brought in candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds, but its incentive system was having problems at the time.
If the allegations hold, they will suggest that some of these years-old complaints persist. A determination by the EEOC could lead to reforms, even if only through public pressure.