Facebook not quite ready to disclose minority hiring data

Google may be ready to release its minority hiring data, but Facebook apparently isn’t quite ready to follow suit.

Veteran civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson has been making the rounds of Silicon Valley companies in recent weeks, urging them to do a better job of hiring, promoting and contracting with black and Latino professionals. He’s attended the annual shareholder meetings of several leading tech companies in recent months, and urged them to make public the annual reports they send the U.S. government to show the demographic breakdown of their workforce.

After receiving a cordial reception from Hewlett-Packard and eBay, Jackson came away last week with a significant concession from Google, which agreed to reverse its long-held position that the numbers are a competitive secret. Google promised to release the numbers by next month.

Jackson told us he was hoping to hear the same from Facebook this week. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, however, wasn’t ready to make a specific commitment.

“We agree with you … We believe transparency is important,” Sandberg assured Jackson and others who attended Thursday’s meeting or listened to the webcast. But she said the company wanted to share the numbers internally first, “and eventually externally.”

“We’re on that path,” she added, but she wasn’t any more specific when Jackson asked her the question again.

Sandberg also said Facebook established a minority hiring program last year and pledged that Facebook is committed to looking “broadly” for new directors if the board expands its membership.

If he was disappointed, Jackson didn’t say so at the meeting. But beforehand, he told us in an interview that the numbers are an important tool for holding tech companies to account. “These are not hostile people,” he said, but he added, “there is some obligation to open up and be fair.”

(Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group:  Rev. Jesse Jackson arriving at the HP shareholder meeting earlier this year)

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (341 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.