Over the past several years, companies around the world have implemented new policies to increase diversity, from setting new hiring goals and publishing annual diversity reports to offering benefits that support underrepresented groups. While these policies are critical to building a diverse workforce, creating a culture that allows people from all types of backgrounds to grow and thrive is equally important.
We spoke with seven team members on the Oculus team in China about how the Facebook company fosters an open and inclusive culture while providing a supportive environment for women in tech. Here’s what they had to say.
Creating an environment where everyone can make an impact
A big part of creating an inclusive work environment is ensuring everyone has the opportunity to succeed. When Ruby H., Engineering Program Manager, first joined Facebook, she was surprised to discover people weren’t rewarded for how long they’d been at the company. Instead, they were rewarded for their contributions and their potential to make a difference.
“Six months into my new job, I was promoted,” she shares. “That was a big surprise for me. I didn’t think a promotion could happen so fast, but the timely and positive feedback I received helped me grow quickly.” At the time, Ruby was working on a critical project that was running behind schedule. She helped her team catch up and get back on track, which was a big win for the organization.
This focus on impact also translates to hiring. Huang Y., Logistics project manager, recalls: “When I started participating in our hiring process as an interviewer, it struck me how our training focuses on making sure we're evaluating candidates only on whether they're professionally qualified for the position they're interviewing for. All interviewers are required to complete the Managing Bias training to assist to further reduce the risk of bias entering the recruitment process.”
Echo W., Factory Operations Director, agrees. “We’re focused on building an environment that helps our people here do work they’re naturally great at and love doing. We really encourage every employee to work to their strengths as we believe that having a clear understanding of your strengths and how you can contribute to your team, and knowing where there’s room to grow is what matters.”
Encouraging direct and authentic communication
One of the biggest differentiators between the culture at the Facebook company and other companies in China is a focus on direct communication. “At Facebook, we value openness,” Huang explains. “Unlike traditional Chinese companies, where there are limitations on how you communicate with teammates, management, and leadership, we encourage everyone to share their thoughts and ideas. This was an adjustment for me at the beginning, but I’ve learned to speak up more.”
When it comes to building products for a global community, diversity of opinion is especially important. Chris X., a design manufacturing engineer, recalls a team training she attended in Shanghai. “One of the big takeaways was ensuring that everyone’s thoughts are heard. At Facebook, if 99 percent of the team shares the same opinion about something, and one person disagrees with it, it’s important we hear them out. We hold meetings here to exchange ideas, and that means making sure we listen to every idea in the room.”
Open communication also creates a supportive work environment where people can be themselves, collaborate more easily, and show appreciation for one another. “We have a ‘Thanks’ blog where we write and publish thank you letters to colleagues who have helped us solve problems,” offers Tang X., a manufacturing test engineer. “It’s a small thing, but it makes you feel appreciated and valued by your teammates. That cultivates trust.”
Building community and fostering connections through events
Community is at the heart of the Facebook company, and it’s one of the most important aspects of Facebook’s inclusive culture. The company offers open forums for people to share their thoughts and ideas, meet like-minded individuals, build connections, and cultivate a sense of belonging. These forums include the annual Women@ Summit and Women’s Leadership Day.
“Women across the company are invited to share their success stories, both inside and outside of work. It provides so many opportunities for us to learn from one another,” Chris says. Annie Yan, a supplier quality engineer, adds, “These events are inspiring. They empower us as women to help drive change within each other and the world. We also learn how to face and solve problems—something I’d never discussed or learned before joining Facebook.”
Inspired by the Women’s Leadership Day event, Echo organized the first Community Day for women in late 2019. Attendees participated in intimate roundtable discussions, played games, and made cookies. The success of the event prompted her to develop a roadmap of future small-scale events for women to connect and establish a network of support. She appreciates that the Facebook company gives her the freedom to implement new ideas that support inclusion. “While many corporations talk about diversity and inclusion, Facebook puts these ideas into practice by prioritizing them in our day-to-day work,” she says.
Respecting personal boundaries and creating a culture of trust
For team members like Ruby H., one of the most important aspects of Facebook’s culture is flexibility. Being able to set boundaries and take time to be with her family has been critical. “While working at previous companies, I barely had the time to participate in my child’s parent-teacher conferences,” she reflects. “Now, I’m able to experience my child growing up without worrying about it impacting my career.”
“Facebook has flexible and human-centered policies that give us the space to thrive,” Elinor C., reliability engineer, adds. “I have a say here, and the company doesn’t see family issues or limitations as a barrier to work. I also appreciate that men and women are both given the same amount of parental leave.”
Working at Oculus in China feels like being part of a big family. Everyone has mutual care and respect for one another, and team members focus on creating a safe environment for people of any background, race, age or gender to be successful. This open culture empowers the team to build products that will shape the future of human connection through AR / VR.