BuzzFeed: Diversity is a priority

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Taking a page from tech giants like Twitter and Facebook, BuzzFeed just released statistics about the diversity of its workforce and it's not overwhelmingly male.

Unlike many of the Silicon Valley firms, BuzzFeed has a pretty even split of men and women — 51.6% men vs. 48.4% women.

(Compare that to Twitter, where 70% of workers are men, and Facebook, where 69% are men.)

It's rare to see a news organization release data about the makeup of its workforce.

About 75% of BuzzFeed employees are white, 11% are Asian, 6.5% are Hispanic, 3.6% are African American, and 3.3% are two or more races.

The much-mimicked and much-scrutinized social news site said it plans to use the data to help guide its expansion plans. It also anticipates hiring a company-wide diversity officer.

Related: Only 3 in 10 Twitter workers are women

BuzzFeed's editorial operations — its writers, its web producers, etc. — are somewhat more diverse than the company as a whole. Within editorial, about 73% of employees are white, 10% are Hispanic, 7% are Asian, 6% are African American, and 3.8% are two or more races.

Techie makes a bet on a clean shave
Techie makes a bet on a clean shave

Overall, BuzzFeed's newsroom has a greater proportion of white faces than the population it writes about. The same could be said for many American newsrooms: the American Society of News Editors, which conducts an annual census of newspaper newsrooms, said earlier this year that "the percentage of minority journalists" in those newsrooms "has remained between 12 and 14 percent for more than a decade."

Why is BuzzFeed being forthcoming about the data? "We wanted to make clear, first of all to the many people at BuzzFeed involved in hiring, how important diversity is as a priority," Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said.

"And in that context, I think it's always valuable to make your goals and your values public — then your readers and anyone who's watching can keep you accountable and push you to be better."

This kind of transparency has been embraced by the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, but not so much by news outlets.

Related: Facebook is 69% male and mostly white

BuzzFeed wants to be seen as a leader in this space — when the company took on another $50 million of venture capital funding in August, one of the funders, Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon, described it as a "preeminent media company" of the future.

That funding will allow BuzzFeed to hire an unspecified number of new staffers in the months ahead. Along with the statistics, Smith also circulated a "hiring guide" to the staff on Wednesday, which he said would be used "as we enter another round of intense growth and hiring."

The hiring guide listed five things that editors "should do when hiring," including insisting on a diverse pool of candidates — "the final interview round should never just be several straight white men" — and looking for "opportunities to make hires that will increase the diversity of our readership."

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