The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

February 23, 2018

What Employers Can Learn about Diversity from Facebook’s Head of Diversity, Maxine Williams


Facebook was named #1 by employees’ choice on Glassdoor’s 2018, Best Places to Work list. The social media giant, worth over half a trillion dollars as of July last year, no doubt has the funding to provide an appealing experience and culture to its cohort. However, this is not to say that a company cannot provide employee satisfaction if they haven’t reached multibillion-dollar status. Glassdoor’s Amy Elisa Jackson sat down with Facebook’s Head of Diversity, Maxine Williams to discuss the win. Below are some takeaways we believe to be beneficial to all employers no matter a firm’s net worth.

Diversity is Necessary

In the past, we have spoken about the benefits of diversity in the workplace. The fact of the matter is that diversity is necessary. It does wonders for employer branding, it sees lower employee turnover rates, it’s more conducive to idea-generating and will lead to exposure to more of the market, no doubt leading to increased profits. Apart from the obvious moral obligation you have as an employer to encourage and promote diversity, the benefits far outweigh any concerns or inconveniences implementing new protocols and straying from the status quo, may pose. Williams herself spoke about how diversity is not easy but it is required in order to build strong communities both inside and outside of a business. The repercussions are positive and widespread. Seeds must be planted early and nurtured in order to grow diversity. Facebook’s win is not solely reflective of 2017’s efforts but rather work put in over the years that culminated in this success.

Accountability Will Aid Retention

“Create a climate of openness where people are respected and valued, and then put programs in place”. This is important to note. Before implementing training and rules, the mindset and culture of a business need to be geared towards diversity. Have open conversations with staff and across management. Cooperatively establish goals and determine what needs to change or what needs improvement then go about creating that change. Sweeping changes are not made overnight. Although actions speak louder than words, the words need to be spoken before actions are taken. Respect the process to ensure that nothing is forced but rather that change is being created unitedly. Facebook has training programs in place that manage bias and manage inclusion. It is important to understand and be conscious of the biases that many people work around. It needs to be recognized that bias is present everywhere, so working to eliminate it and becoming self-aware are necessary aids in ensuring that employee retention is high. Focus on retention as much as recruitment. At Abacus we don’t focus solely on getting you great candidates, we strive to ensure that they are the right fits to achieve long-term success in your company. Retention is equally as important as recruitment, if not more so. Once we have handed over the baton and the successful candidate is on-boarded, we trust that retention measures are put in place from the outset to manage the relationship between the two parties we have matched.

Don’t Focus on Filling Quotas

“We’re not talking about doing things because we have to, we are talking about doing things because we want to,” says Williams. According to her, the sky is the limit when it comes to achieving diversity. This is a great way to look at diversity hiring and retention, because it keeps expectations and motives in check. Hiring to fill a quota creates a different environment to one that is hiring to achieve positive change through diversity. This lends itself to the Facebook philosophy that “Nothing at Facebook is Somebody Else’s Problem”. Everyone has a role to play and everyone adds to the value of the product and the workplace. In that way, everyone is respected and appreciated.

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