Women, minorities lose ground in tech layoffs


Britt Levy, 35, wanted to gain a foothold in the recruiting field and help other military families find jobs in the lucrative tech sector, so last year Meta launched a paid training program for aspiring HR managers. I was eager to participate in

Levy, who is Mexican-American, will begin a 12-month gig in April after confirming to Meta that her position will be secured for the duration of the program despite the company’s financial difficulties. She said the program, which aims to improve the pipeline of diversity-focused recruiters, was fully funded that year.

About six months later, amid slowing revenue growth due to a sluggish economy and increased competition in the social media market, Meta reduced Levy and most of the other participants in her program to 13% of full-time workers. was dismissed with

“What they’ve done to this program is, I would never encourage anyone to sign up for Meta’s diversity program,” says Levy. “fundamentally, [Meta] cut us off our knees ”

Levy’s experience illustrates the uphill battle Meta and other tech companies face while reducing headcount while maintaining commitments to increasing numbers of women and underrepresented minorities.

The tech industry has long struggled to recruit a diverse workforce, but a recent wave of job cuts by Silicon Valley companies has hit women particularly hard, according to a recently released analysis of layoff demographic data. I am giving Experts say women and some minorities were particularly vulnerable to layoffs because they were new to the job and occupied roles that companies were less interested in retaining.

Benjamín Juárez, co-founder of Latinos in Tech, a group that provides technical skills training, says diversity “was never in their forte.” “Not during this downtime.”

Many of the big tech companies have increased the numbers of women and minorities during the pandemic with the lure of remote work. This allowed companies to recruit in wider areas and hire people who would otherwise prefer to stay at home.

But layoffs threaten those interests. Layoffs at tech companies An analysis of data from her tracker Layoffs.fyi found that while women make up about 39% of the total workforce, they make up 46% of all layoffs since September. have understood. labor market. Hispanic workers were slightly more likely than employees to be included in layoffs, according to Reverio data.

Reyhan Ayas, senior economist at Revelio Labs, said: “When [diversity, equity and inclusion] General efforts have been hampered by layoffs in the last year or so, at least for some companies. ”

One of the reasons women and Hispanic workers have been targeted for layoffs is because companies used a “last in, first out” strategy to determine which jobs to keep and which to cut. According to Revelio, laid-off employees had an average tenure of just one year, far less than the rest of the workforce spent at the company. The data showed that workers who were laid off were more likely to take jobs tech companies were eager to cut, such as hiring and customer service jobs.

Bhaskar Chakravorty, Dean of Global Business at Tufts’ Fletcher School, said: University. “Last-in-first-out laws have affected a wide range of people, but women and minorities have been disproportionately dismissed in recent years as they have been disproportionately hired.”

Meta is one company that has used remote work to gain diversity during the pandemic. According to Meta’s annual diversity report, between 2021 and 2022, the share of Black, Hispanic, multiethnic, and Asian employees in the U.S. workforce will increase, while the share of white employees will grow. The percentage decreased by 1.5 percentage points. The company’s leadership has also become more diverse, with more female, black and Hispanic managers, according to the report.

Maxine Williams, chief diversity officer at Meta, said last year that U.S. candidates who accepted remote job offers were more likely to come from underrepresented racial groups. Globally, they were more likely to be female.

According to Meta’s report, between 2021 and 2022, the proportion of women in Meta’s workforce will increase slightly from 36.7% to 37.1%.

Chakravorti said telecommuting workers may be particularly vulnerable to job cuts because they are given less important tasks and spend less time with their bosses than those who commute to the office. added that there is

“As people started to move back into the office, there was a two-tier citizenship within certain companies, between those who worked fully remotely and those who came to the office occasionally,” he said. .

Easing safety restrictions during the pandemic took a toll on Meta at a time when its core business model faced other serious threats. The social media giant has been competing with rival apps like TikTok for both users and advertising dollars. Apple has introduced new privacy restrictions that impair the company’s ability to collect data about its users for the purposes of targeted advertising. Marketers, meanwhile, are cutting back on their advertising spend due to uncertainty in the global economy.

This summer, Meta executives issued a dizzying array of mandates, outlining a new era of rising performance expectations and slowing hiring. This is as the company emerges from the pandemic and has a growing list of financial challenges. Managers were asked to identify underperforming employees, which sparked a wave of anxiety and resentment among Facebook employees.

Mehta’s treatment of minority workers already faced scrutiny. In 2020, an African-American manager and two job seekers rejected by Facebook claimed the company was biased against black employees in evaluations, promotions, salaries, and hiring practices. , filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“We didn’t just fire the underperforming people,” said Peter Roemer Friedman, an attorney representing the petitioners in the case. “I think it’s clear that’s the problem, because Meta’s rating system is riddled with discriminatory issues, in that the company fired someone for poor performance.”

In November, Meta’s head of human resources Lori Goler told the rest of the workforce: Following the layoffs, the company did not explicitly consider diversity when deciding which positions to cut, according to transcripts of the meeting heard by The Washington Post.

“Our way of thinking about DEI was the same way we think in all of our HR processes, using the acronym Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Less discretion, more objectivity. If any of the employee processes are improved, it will be better for DEI.” Recruitment teams were particularly hard hit, she said.

One of the strategies the company used is what it said on a conference call: And that’s how we arrive at a more objective standard. And as we tried to move forward with planning and downsizing, there were several ways to do it across the organization. ”

Goler also said roughly 46% of the layoffs were due to the technology team and 54% to the business side of the company. At Meta, women and people of color are more likely to take on business roles in the company than in engineering roles.

As Meta’s financial situation deteriorated and the company began to slow down and freeze hiring, Levy said she and her colleagues had much less work to do. I spent a lot of time getting in touch with employees to learn more about the company and their career paths.

Two months after the layoff, Levy said he is still struggling to find work in recruitment and other areas. According to her, so far she has applied for hundreds of jobs, but she has only managed a few interviews.

“I apply to everything,” Levy said. “It was hard.”

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