For the fourth straight year, Facebook released its annual diversity update for 2016 as part of an effort to increase accountability for making its workforce more inclusive of women and underrepresented minorities. The numbers revealed only slight progress, but given the considerable rise in employee headcount (nearly 3x since 2014) and investments made in long-term diversity initiatives, the progress is encouraging.
Now at over 17,000 employees, Facebook grew the proportion of women in its ranks by 2 percent since 2015, to 35 percent of the global workforce. Women’s numbers also rose by 2 percent in technical jobs to 19 percent while the percentage of women in leadership increased from 27 to 28 percent and is up four percentage points from 2014.
Black and Hispanic presence in the US has grown as well, each by one percent, now at 3 and 5 percent respectively. Minority presence in senior leadership, however, remained stagnant across Asian, black, and Hispanic Americans, and has hardly grown since 2014.
“For every increase in representation for an under-represented group, it means we are hiring them at rates that are higher than the rates we are for majority groups,” Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity, Maxine Williams, told Recode. “To outpace means there is a deliberate driving engine behind it.”
Williams credits a number of programs for the tech giant’s diversity progress and is optimistic for greater returns in the coming years. All of Facebook’s senior leaders and 75 percent of employees overall have taken its optional training program to address unconscious bias. Two newer courses, Managing Inclusion and Be an Ally, are also helping the cause. Managing Inclusion seeks to make leaders aware of the issues minorities face inside and outside of the workplace, while Be an Ally is designed to confirm the stance that diversity benefits the company and everyone in it.
“What you see in our numbers is a multi-year investment starting to pay off,” Facebook’s VP of People Lori Goler told Fortune.
Additionally, a summer internship program for first-year college students from underrepresented groups recently saw its full-time hires last year and should lead to many more down the road. Facebook has also adopted a mandate company-wide that for every job opening, the hiring manager must interview a minority candidate (a version of the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule,” which other tech companies have also adopted). The rule was previously just in place for a few teams around the company.
Though the steps in the right direction are small, early success is promising, especially compared to last year’s figures. There are still areas that need improvement, such as gender equality and racial diversity in leadership, but given the company’s growth, Facebook has clearly put effort towards diversity and inclusion. Down the road, it would be great to see numbers on tenure and retention for these populations, as those will be more telling as to whether or not Williams has successfully developed a culture of inclusion at the company.
“We still have a long way to go,” Facebook’s release concluded, “but we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive company—no matter how long it takes.”