As part of this week’s Increasing Diversity in Innovation conference, Facebook makes new pledge aimed at increasing employee diversity and designed to better support underrepresented inventors, particularly in the technology sector.
As Facebook explained:
“Increasing Diversity in Innovation brings together leaders from government, academia and the technology industry to discuss ways to support underrepresented inventors. Conference sessions focus on unconscious bias, systemic inequalities in the patent process, how to engage diverse inventors, and the importance of innovation.”
In addition to the educational sessions, conference attendees will sign a “Pledge to Increase Diversity in Invention,” which is a commitment from each organization to increase support for underrepresented inventors.
Facebook, which helped develop the pledge and is already committed to its goals, also announced that it is taking its efforts in this direction a step further by expanding its program aimed at achieving gender parity in patenting.
“We recently piloted small group brainstorming sessions for women inventors and will expand these sessions to other groups of underrepresented inventors. We will also create a mentoring program that will support women in the patenting process. Next year, we will publicly share metrics on Facebook inventors who identify as women.”
Facebook has made various public commitments to improve representation and equality among its employees and regularly communicates its progress in this area in its diversity and inclusion report.
Gender equality, in particular, is an important area of focus for the company, as the latest update to the report shows that Facebook has seen an annual decrease in the overall percentage of women working for the organization (37% in 2020 versus 36.7% in 2021).
At the same time, Facebook has seen a slight increase in the percentage of women working in technology (24.8% vs. 24.1%), while 2020 has apparently been complicated by the pandemic. But the numbers show that despite Facebook’s public commitment, it still has a way to go in improving gender representation overall.
That said, Facebook additionally notes that true progress …
“…would not be possible without the diverse perspectives that represent the ways our products are used around the world.”
It is important for the company to report on this element, as one can easily hear its broader commitment to this issue and assume that it is making good progress.
As always, balance is needed, but by Facebook’s own description, it needs more diversity among employees.
Hopefully, these new elements will reinforce that focus.