Facebook Criticized for Lack of Ideological Diversity at Annual Meeting

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Here are remarks of NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty at the Facebook annual meeting today in Menlo Park, California in support of NLPC shareholder proposal on workplace diversity:

In response to this proposal promoting ideological diversity, the Company claims that “diversity of ideas is core to our business,” but then goes on cite initiatives that make the company less diverse, not more.

Like the fact that the company publishes data on the ethnicity and gender of the its workforce. Is it not racist and sexist to attribute certain thoughts and ideas to individuals based on their gender or race? Do all African-Americans think alike? How about all women?

Facebook huffs that “we do not collect data on the political ideology of our employees,” as if this would be somehow intrusive.

I’d suggest that it is a lot less intrusive than quizzing employees on the genetic makeup of their grandparents, or what they do in their bedrooms, information that Facebook is happy to collect and ballyhoo.

Facebook also cites so-called “bias training” programs. As described by Carl Horowitz of my staff in a monograph titled “The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training: Jane Elliott’s Captive Eyes and Minds,” these programs result in double standards, and make employees less likely to voice individual opinions.

It seems like Facebook makes a lot of mistakes. Whenever conservatives or libertarians get censored by Facebook, it is a mistake, and the denials fly that the company is biased.

But couldn’t a lot of these mistakes be avoided if content gatekeepers weren’t practically all San Francisco liberals? As Mark Andreessen candidly observed, “”I think it is really hard for a lot people in Silicon Valley to even articulate the other side…”

What would be wrong with making a conscious effort to hire more people who are truly underrepresented at Facebook?

Conservatives. Libertarians. Practicing Catholics and Christians. Observant Jews. Midwesterners. Veterans. It’s a pretty long list.

And I’m not suggesting that these people all think alike, either.

For many Americans, maybe the Facebook workplace is so hostile to their values that they would not want to work here. Well, Facebook should start doing something about it.

Surely, the company has interests and it should speak out in defense of them. But if Facebook wants to be a “platform for all ideas,” why in the world does it insert itself into to the public policy controversies of the day?

Shouldn’t the company be carefully neutral on issues that have nothing to do with it core business?

Take for example Facebook’s promotion of the so-called Equality Act, a title that would make George Orwell proud. It would basically abolish gender before the law, although in the real world you cannot abolish gender because it is a genetic and biological reality.

There is no corner of our society that it would not touch.

Of course, without gender there is no feminism. There’s no Title IX, meaning the end of women’s’ sports. But that is just the start of the controversy.

What could be more seemingly calculated to alienate a significant portion of Facebook users, employees and shareholders? How will it play in the rest of the world?

Is Mark Zuckerberg’s view that supporting the Equality Act must be done because it is the right thing to do? What makes him the arbiter of what is right?

Zuckerberg is entitled to his own views, but he heads a public company.

Facebook has hundreds of thousands of employees and shareholders. Billions of users. They don’t all think alike.

True respect means recognizing that other people may have differing views but that they are entitled to them. It is time for a little respect in the Facebook workplace, and true diversity cannot be achieved without it.