June 13, 2024

This Black woman at Facebook is why the tech giant is encouraging users to buy Black

Facebook’s wants you to #BuyBlack on Black Friday. Rachael Hawk is the reason why.

Hawk’s pain birthed an idea that’s helping Black owned-small businesses get through a second pandemic holiday season. 

(Credit: Twitter/@thisisrachael)

Put it this way, in case you didn’t catch the magic. A Black 28-year-old woman, in her second year working at Facebook, fresh from her hometown of Jacksonville Florida, influenced one of the most powerful companies in the world to better support Black people and their businesses. She did it when being Black in America was especially exhausting, during the summer of 2020. 

She was vulnerable in the workplace. Gasp! This is territory Black women have to tiptoe around, or avoid all together, at work because of stereotypes about us. Basically, we are expected to be ironclad. But summer 2020 tried our lives (literally) and women like Hawk had to do something about it — no matter the outcome.

“I think Black people are careful about — really any diverse people — are careful about how vulnerable we are in the workplace,” she explained to theGrio. “Because, I’ll just speak for myself, I was raised to do good work at work and leave my personal life at home. And this is exactly opposite of that.”

“Bringing all the emotions, the sadness, some of the anger, all of that into work. So it was kind of against my own core programming, which I think is shared by a lot of diverse people.”

Hawk was already in position to help her cause at the time. She was a marketing manager on Facebook’s Small Business team and spent her days working on how the company can better support diverse businesses globally. But, she wanted to turn the department’s attention to helping Black-owned businesses in the U.S. specifically.

She had research showing how Black businesses were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and now, a racial reckoning was unfolding. With that in mind, she brought a brainstorming team together to see how the department could better support Black businesses.

She had the attention of the board room already. America was talking about and watching the murder of George Floyd, the death of Breonna Taylor and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Now, she needed buy-in from her colleagues. 

(Credit: LinkedIn/Rachael Hawk)

“It was scary because I didn’t really want to pitch it,” Hawk tells theGrio. “I thought that it should be the person I was working with. His name is Remi, he’s my friend and he’s on my team. I thought he would be better to do it because he’s more senior than me. He does a great job at this, but he encouraged me to present. Then he helped me prep. So I presented it to our VP and then our VP took it to [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg.”

Hawk says this is what male allyship looks like. 

“If you actually want to help support women who are around you, you can literally give up opportunities that you think they would be equally suited for, better suited for, which is certainly a sacrifice,” she adds. “This would have been a great opportunity for him.”

The presentation went well. Multiple departments within Facebook signed up to help, but Hawk had no idea the magnitude the #BuyBlack campaign would have, and she certainly didn’t think it would continue for a second year. 

#BuyBlack Friday aired every Friday in November in 2021 and will air its last show on Nov. 26 on the site’s Shop tab. Hosted by New York Times best-selling author, journalist and television host Elaine Welteroth, the experience allows you to celebrate Black culture, get to know the brand’s founders and buy products without leaving the broadcast.

More than 15 million people tuned into the show last holiday season. #BuyBlack Friday will soon be global with programming kicking off in Brazil and Australia this month. 

Hawk won’t say it, but I will. If she wouldn’t have responded to her discomfort and pain in a proactive way, Facebook’s #BuyBlack Friday campaign likely wouldn’t exist today. She’s the brainchild.

This March 29, 2018 file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

I also think it’s good for us to see what it really looks like to bring forth a calling on your life. It’s clear she’s part of a larger purpose to uplift marginalized people of color and their businesses. It wasn’t a dream or a side hustle. It was a part of her identity and she had the courage to give a piece of herself to her work. Quite a masterclass in learning how to live out your purpose in your career.

Here are three tips from Hawk on how to bring your idea to life in the workplace:

  1. Get comfortable with leading without authority

“The way this happened was sort of leading people with an idea or a concept of something. The authority doesn’t come from a position. It comes from an idea or a thought. So I would say lean into that, if you can. As a young person, that’s probably the leverage that’ll work most successfully for you.”

2. Have a strong point of view

“I think #BuyBlack is the first of one of these programs, just because myself and my teammate are Black. I think that we have very strong opinions and feelings about the Black community. I think it requires being able to not only have those POVs, but express them clearly and in rooms where people might not be familiar or comfortable with those types of POVs. Settle into just being able to strongly communicate your thoughts, whatever you’re passionate about.”

3. Build relationships

“I think there’s another reason why #BuyBlack spread the way it did around the company: very small relationship building. So that means meetings with people, one-on-one, get to know them and get to know what their goals are. When it’s time for you to enroll them in your program, you can make a shared goal.”

You can learn more about #BuyBlack Friday on their website.

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