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Facebook Share Office Equality Course with the World

Most social media and tech firms pride themselves on having progressive working environments. Usually that's just code for 'bean bag chairs in the lobby'. Equality is a big part of it though and with so many prejudice lawsuits and claims of misogyny flying around Silicon Valley and beyond, many companies are keen to demonstrate that it doesn't happen on their turf.

What Facebook have done takes it a step further, to the point of actually promoting better office environments beyond their own front door. All Facebook staffers are encouraged to take a 2 hour personal course on office equality and bias. Supposedly more than 50% of all their employees worldwide have taken it and now they've released a kind of scaled down version online for other companies to take and use.

Why Facebook should be a particularly significant exemplar of the fight against what they call 'unconscious bias', I don't know, but you have to figure that other companies will jump at the chance to take advantage of insights from a company as large and well known as theirs. The idea behind it is to make people aware of biases that might be somewhere under the surface without people even realising. This is particularly important where hiring policy is concerned, as it can extend to people losing out on job offers or being offered lower salaries because of something as irrelevant as their mannerisms or their name.

The videos being offered in this online iteration of the course cover four specific areas: stereotypes and performance bias, performance attribution bias, competence/likeability trade-off bias, and maternal bias. Obviously the approach within the company will be a bit different given that Facebook staff take the course in person, but only time will tell whether or not the online version is as effective. Facebook's office diversity statistics have been steadily improving, but there is still a big leaning towards predominantly white and Asian staff. Women are also still a minority.

Does a company really need to be a shining, perfect example of equality in order to be able to teach others about it? Not necessarily, it's more about having the resources and Facebook certainly have plenty of those. There is probably some impetus on improving their overall image as well, since they've faced controversies about poor representation of minorities in the past, particularly in relation to their naming policies.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Facebook Share Office Equality Course with the World Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, August 06, 2015 Rating: 5

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