"When we're talking about diversity, it's not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us." -Ava DuVernay
Let's be clear: Black History Month is not the only time we should be celebrating, advocating for, and honoring the contributions and accomplishments of the African-American community. However, this month is a wonderful time to revisit our habits of inclusivity, civility, representation, and appreciation - especially in the workplace.
Use this February as a chance to revisit your DEI and HR expert seminars and meetings planned for this year and include some ways to honor Black members of your workplace.
Encourage Employees to Learn about Local Black History
No matter where you live and work, there are countless contributions by those in the Black community. We cannot change our history and the overlooked aspects of these contributions. We can do our part to become more inclusive individually, and one step is expanding our understanding and appreciation of these close-to-home contributions.
Chances are, your understanding of local history will be enriched and broadened by specifically learning about Black contributions to your area. This is an engaging way to help your team understand Black History's relevance to their individual lives and community.
Invest in DEI Training or Organize an Inclusion Event
Some things are better left to the professionals - and fostering diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is a realm for a trained professional.
Many in the workplace are supportive of their co-workers or want to show more support but are unsure how. Others are beginning to recognize some racist tendencies they may have inherently picked up on while growing up and aren't sure how to correct these ingrained habits.
DEI training can circumvent the big elephant in the room and give everyone a breath of fresh air to deal with these issues head-on and come out the other end with a more cohesive and supportive team.
Create a Company-Wide Donation Goal
Setting a company-wide goal to a cause promotes workplace DEI and sets the standard that you are committed to an inclusive workplace that will work together. This takes diversity, equality, and inclusion beyond the individual. At your workplace, you work together.
This is important! 67% of job-seekers consider workplace diversity as a key factor when considering what companies to work for. Setting a company-wide donation goal not only improves current comradery but aids in the acquisition of future talent to your company.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
Shopping at Black-owned businesses promotes economic empowerment. Be mindful of the local shops owned by Black members of your community. This creates a ripple effect, starting with you and your workplace by giving back to your community as a whole and the Black community specifically. Acknowledging the power of diversity within your community translates to the workplace, improving each area in an upward cycle of healing and inclusion.
Donate Time and Be a Mentor
For many years, African-American communities were placed at disadvantages and prejudicial practices. Support employees and set an example by donating time to mentor in these communities. Provide general guidance or specific lessons to an individual or organization with a strong track record of help and success. As we prioritize diversity and are mindful of our underserved communities, we strengthen our community and workplaces as a whole.
Support Black Art and Artists
Balance out underrepresentation by seeking out and supporting Black artists. Check out what's going on in your area. Search for Black History Month events. You'll find everything from comedy shows to art exhibitions, poetry recitals, and talks.
"In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." -Thurgood Marshall
Getting involved in Black History Month is an important practice to promote inclusive workplaces and communities. Prioritizing diversity is a positive way to start the cycle of change within our society. It can feel overwhelming when considering the scope of such a task, but these six ways of celebrating Black History month are a great place to start. As you practice individually, and support these practices at work, the world benefits and improves one day at a time.