Why It’s Important To Celebrate Black History Month
By 2026, companies worldwide will spend more than $15.4 billion on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, a substantial increase from 2020. While this is good news, the actual progress made in workplaces globally has been limited, and there is still a lot of ground to be covered. Celebrating Black History Month is a great opportunity and starting point for organizations that wish to educate employees and begin the journey of true equality and equity in the workplace. Therefore, their efforts should not be limited to just one month but keep going all year round. Also, management and team members should not be afraid to engage in conversations about race, since that’s the only way true understanding and respect are fostered.
Ways Organization Can Show Appreciation And Respect
Companies can celebrate Black History Month by inviting informed guest speakers who will talk about historic figures that left their mark. Many may be familiar with names like Nelson Mandela, Carter G. Woodson, and Langston Hughes. But how many know what these great figures achieved and why they should be acknowledged? Therefore, companies can assume the role of educators. Additionally, they might consider visiting local museums and libraries to learn about their area’s black history. Chances are that your area has a unique history and contributions made by black citizens you weren’t aware of. Such knowledge helps everyone realize how black figures are often overlooked despite their massive influence. Lastly, leaders may ask employees to share their personal stories that highlight their struggles and shed some light on the inequity they face.
Invest In DE&I Training
Unconscious bias is one big issue many companies face, from their top management to their trainees. DE&I initiatives and training should be promoted throughout the year, not just during February. Companies must hold workshops and indicate to employees what is considered problematic and racist behavior. This way, everyone can understand their own biases and work toward overcoming them. Also, individuals of all backgrounds are brought together, get to know one another, and collaborate for the first time. Organizations should also hold workshops for their recruiters and hiring managers and show them how to be inclusive in job descriptions. Using the correct language can attract applicants of all backgrounds. As a result, companies can work toward eradicating unfair hiring procedures and making their workplace environment more welcoming and understanding.
Involve All Employees
Some companies think it’s best to ask their black employees to organize the activities everyone will participate in during Black History Month. However, this tactic should be avoided, and organizations must involve everyone regardless of their race. You may initiate the creation of a volunteer committee where anyone can join and organize activities. This committee should be active all year round and try to celebrate employees and their accomplishments. Leaders must keep in mind that not all black team members may want to participate in organizing these activities. Making such assumptions is further raising the gap and shows that companies may not understand the true meaning of celebrating Black History Month. This voluntary committee can keep changing every year, ensuring all different opinions are heard and considered.
Start A Book Club
Asking employees to read more fiction or non-fiction books written by black authors may not be enough. Therefore, hosting a physical or virtual book club might be the right move to celebrate Black History Month and authors who are not usually acknowledged. Books like The Color Purple, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and Things Fall Apart are excellent starts for those who want to be educated on black literature. You may even invite an author or educator to discuss the books employees read. They can help them understand the stories better and start a deeper conversation about the authors’ or characters’ experiences.
Volunteer And Donate
Support for marginalized groups goes way beyond hiring a black professional and posting on your social media. Companies can start by donating to nonprofit organizations that actively fight against racial discrimination and bias. While money isn’t always the solution, in some cases, it can help out a lot. Many of these organizations offer mentorship to young black people to help them excel in their careers. Also, companies can dedicate internships to black individuals who want to get their foot in corporate careers and train them. Additionally, leaders can involve their employees in volunteering. Those interested can join nonprofits and spend some time every week to help out. It can be anything from cooking for poor neighborhoods to guiding black trans youth.
Support Employee Resource Groups
Another way to celebrate Black History Month and show dedication to your black team members is to encourage the creation of employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups are led by coworkers who help each other progress and develop their careers. Anyone who joins can share personal stories and experiences and build connections with their colleagues. Leadership can also participate in these groups and keep an open ear for everyone’s opinions. Black History Month should be incorporated into these discussions, too. Managers and employees can sit together and educate one another about the struggles of the community. They can watch documentaries, read books, and be there for each other with empathy and understanding.
Take Advantage Of Social Media
Social media can sometimes feel fake and dishonest. But companies can utilize them to raise awareness during Black History Month. Their social media managers should carve out powerful posts about different historical figures and share stories of everyday personalities. Employees should also be encouraged to do the same thing. Everyone can show public support for black-owned businesses and black artists. While these moves may seem superficial, in actuality, they offer visibility to those who have always been pushed into obscurity.
These are just a few of the ways that your organization can celebrate Black History Month and cultivate a more collaborative and inclusive culture. All of us, coming from different backgrounds, must stand as active allies and show genuine comradery, not just in February but all year round.