Facebook Starts Its ‘Rooney Rule’ to Increase Diversity in Tech

Source: Bloomberg | June 17, 2015 | By Sara Frier

Facebook Inc. is starting to implement a rule to require considering at least one minority candidate for open positions, similar to the “Rooney Rule” the NFL used to increase diversity of the teams’ coaching staff.

The rule went into effect in some Facebook departments in the last few months, according to a person familiar with the matter. If it helps increase the presence of people who are black, Latino or otherwise minorities, it will be implemented at the social network widely. Facebook spokeswoman Genevieve Grdina confirmed the effort, while declining to comment further.

Facebook is set to release its workforce diversity statistics soon, declaring for the second year in a row that more work is needed at the company to increase the presence of women and minorities. Technology companies including Apple Inc. and Google Inc. are also working to address the issue with new recruiting methods, retention strategies and funding of nonprofit groups that help increase the pipeline of candidates.

Last year, Facebook said 94 percent of its technical employees were white or Asian. Women made up 15 percent of technical roles. Facebook has more than 10,000 employees.

On Tuesday, Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou said at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco that while quotas may be controversial, a Rooney Rule at technology companies would help ensure that diverse candidates are at least being considered.

The Rooney Rule, established in 2003, was named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney. The rule increased the percentage of black coaches to 22 percent in three years, up from 6 percent before it started.