Facebook Partners with Nat’l Urban League to Provide Digital Skills to Underserved Communities

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Sheryl Sandberg (l) and National Urban League President Marc Morial

Last week at the National Urban League’s Annual Conference, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and National Urban League President Marc Morial announced a new partnership to provide digital skills training to entrepreneurs and small business owners in 13 cities nationwide beginning in 2019.

With only 2.1% of small businesses across the country owned by African Americans, Sandberg and Morial discussed the topic of diversity during a fireside chat. The announced partnership aims to address the problem of diversity in the workplace. For perspective, the average black woman in America had to work all of last year and for more than eight months of this year to earn as much as the average white man did in 2017, according to a new survey conducted by Sandberg’s Lean In Foundation and the National Urban League.

As part of the partnership, Facebook will offer in-person training in conjunction with local Urban League chapters so that individuals and small business owners of different backgrounds can have access to the digital marketing tools they need to advance in their careers and grow their businesses. Attendees will have the opportunity to be trained on Facebook tools including Business Pages, Messenger, Instagram and more, to help them connect with customers and best manage a digital presence. Following the training, all participants will be granted access to free online support to build upon these learnings.

This joint effort with the National Urban League ensures that Facebook can continue to reach small businesses and underserved communities that need support, and contribute to their continued growth and health. The National Urban League will also join Facebook as a national advisor to help us work towards our goal to train 1 million people and small businesses in digital skills by 2020.

“Facebook wants to help more people benefit from the opportunities being created by technology. That’s why we made a commitment to train 1 million people and small businesses across the country in digital skills by 2020. We’re honored to do this work in partnership with the National Urban League who will help us reach the underserved communities who need it most. Together we’re offering two trainings a year at thirteen National Urban League locations in cities nationwide. They’re also joining us as an advisor to help us create more opportunities for small businesses from underserved communities. We’re grateful to partner with such an effective civil rights organization helping change lives for the better.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Here, we caught up with Monique Dorsainvil, Public Policy Manager at Facebook, to talk more about the partnership and Facebook’s diversity goals.
TNJ.com: The press release states that “Facebook will offer in-person training in conjunction with local Urban League chapters so that individuals and small business owners of different backgrounds can have access to the digital marketing tools they need to advance in their careers and grow their businesses.” How will this work? How many people will be trained at the two training sessions per year? Will there be applications to be submitted for eligibility for the training sessions? What is the criteria for admission?
Monique Dorsainvil: Our new collaboration with the National Urban League builds upon our existing work with Urban League affiliates in St. Louis and Houston (announced in Spring 2018) and will expand to 12 more cities starting in 2019, including: Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, Houston, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Kansas City, MO, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, New Orleans, LA, Philadelphia, PA and Washington, D.C. We created the social media strategy and digital marketing curriculum and will work with the local Urban League teams to run workshops and deliver the training sessions to their local community.
The training sessions are free to attend and registration is open to all residents. The exact application process and number of people to be trained for each are still being determined and will be unique to each local Urban League chapter. By working with organizations like the Urban League nationally, and at the local level, is a key way to help us meet our goal of training one million small business owners by 2020 and helping more communities get skills they need to succeed in the digital economy.
TNJ.com: The partnership states that “This joint effort with the National Urban League ensures that Facebook can continue to reach small businesses and underserved communities that need support.” With the reported low numbers of African American employees working at Facebook, will Facebook’s newfound interest in diversity (via the partnership to help small business owners ) extend to African American skilled, qualified tech professionals looking to work at Facebook?
Monique Dorsainvil: At Facebook, diversity is critical to our success as a company. People from all backgrounds rely on Facebook to connect with others, and we will better serve their needs with a more diverse workforce. We’ve been reporting our diversity numbers since 2014. This level of transparency holds us accountable. We’ve worked to better serve underrepresented groups employed at Facebook and to attract more people from those communities to join Facebook. Black employees overall increased from two percent to four percent across the company and the percentage of Black employees in business and sales roles grew from two percent to eight percent. We’re making progress, but not as quickly as we would like and we know we have much more work to do.
That’s why it is important for us to build strong relationships with organizations that support people of color, including The National Urban League. By supporting these organizations that provide digital skills to undeserved communities, our goal is to increase qualified candidates to fill open roles within our own company and other companies like Facebook.
TNJ.com: Does Facebook have any diversity goals when it comes to human resources/hiring practices?
Monique Dorsainvil: This year, we’ve focused on bringing digital skills to communities in need with our Community Boost program as a commitment to help close the skills gap in America by giving these communities the opportunity to learn tools they need in the digital economy. According to recent research, businesses run by African Americans are twice as likely to say that their business was built on Facebook, and one and a half times more likely to say they’ve hired more people since joining the platform. With these entrepreneurs actively using Facebook to help drive their business, we know there is a need and interest among business owners to learn about ways to grow their business.
We’ve traveled to over 15 cities so far to provide week-long training sessions to small business owners and job seekers to strengthen their digital skills. We believe that for Community Boost to truly serve its purpose, it’s important that opportunities for education are available long after this week’s event. We need to create practical training programs and provide curriculum to the organizations who are there long after we’ve left. Our partnership with community colleges and organizations like the National Urban League allow us to do just that and we hope to expand these partnerships to reach our goal of training one million people across the country by 2020 and prepare them for technical roles in workplaces including Facebook.
We’re working to recruit, retain and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce and we know we have more work to do. We’re encouraged by the progress we’re making in these communities throughout the US and we’re grateful for our partners that help drive our vision. For more information please check out our annual diversity report.