Facebook has outlined how it plans to contribute to addressing racial inequality, announcing a range of new funding commitments, new measures to support black-owned businesses, and new internal staffing and education drives to improve both representation and understanding.
First off, as announced by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
"Building on earlier investments, we’re committing an additional $200 million to support Black-owned businesses and organizations. This commitment is part of a broader $1.1 billion investment in Black and diverse suppliers and communities in the US."
Sandberg notes that a significant proportion of the business which had applied for funding as part of Facebook's $100 million COVID-19 grant program were black-owned, which highlights the need for support in this area.
In addition to this, Sandberg has outlined a range of additional funding and support measures:
- We’re investing $100 million this year in Black-owned small businesses, Black creators, and nonprofits that serve the Black community in the US. This includes $25 million in support of Black content creators and $75 million in grants of cash and ad credits to support Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve the Black community.
- We’re setting a goal to spend at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers next year and every year thereafter. As part of this, we’ll spend at least $100 million annually with Black-owned suppliers, from facilities to construction to marketing agencies and more.
- Over the next three years, we’ll reach 1 million members of the Black community and 1 million members of the Latinx community in the US through a program called Elevate that provides free training in the digital skills they need to succeed, from setting up an online presence to creating marketing materials and more.
- We’re giving 100,000 scholarships to Black students working toward digital skills certifications through our Facebook Blueprint program.
- To support people raising money for causes they care about on Juneteenth, we’ll donate $5 million ($19 each) to over 250,000 Facebook Fundraisers created for three racial justice organizations: Equal Justice Initiative, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Innocence Project.
In addition to these measures, Facebook's also creating a new platform within its main app called 'Lift Black Voices' which will highlight stories from black communities and creators, share educational resources, and seek to inspire people to take action through fundraising for racial justice causes.
Instagram is also highlighting the work of black creators via the #ShareBlackStories hashtag.
These additional measures will provide assistance, but as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg notes:
"While financial investments help, I know it's not enough to address the systemic inequalities that the Black community has faced for generations. We can't build products to serve the world without a diverse and inclusive workforce."
Addressing this, Facebook has also announced that:
- 50% of its global workforce will be from underrepresented communities by the end of 2023, while it's also working to double the number of Black and Latinx Facebook employees in the same timeframe
- In the next five years, Facebook aims to employ 30% more people of color, and appoint 30% more black people to leadership positions.
- It will also re-examine its processes to ensure that diverse perspectives are included in the development of all products, policies and programs.
The commitments are significant, and will contribute to addressing systemic bias within society. Many of these biases are difficult to pin down without committed analysis, so it's good to see Facebook making definitive commitments to help improve representation, and education within the community.