Black History Month: Celebrating Diversity in the Workplace
Black History Month was first celebrated in 1970, following decades of Negro History Week and its slowly increasing acceptance across the United States. Now over 50 years later, as issues of racial injustice dominate the news and the streets, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans, and to recognize the importance of racial diversity in the workplace and beyond. Black History Month provides a time to do just that, while creating learning opportunities for everyone.
A history of discrimination
Research has shown that Black employees still face racism, discrimination, and unfair treatment despite years of diversity initiatives. As HR professionals, remember that it is our responsibility to be role models for eliminating discrimination and bias, thereby encouraging the inclusion of all employees. If your company recognizes and celebrates its employees’ backgrounds — racial, cultural, and ethnic — it’s more likely that everyone will be better engaged with one another as well as their jobs.
Some ideas for celebrating Black History Month
Don’t rely on Black employees to organize their own recognition. Get everyone involved in the planning and celebrating. And if your company lacks diversity, you should probably review your current recruiting and interviewing processes.
Don’t limit it to February.
Successful inclusion efforts should go beyond honoring a group during the year’s shortest month. In order to create a truly inclusive environment, don’t make the celebration a one-off event. Strive to make diversity a cornerstone of your culture. Your employees, and potential future employees, will notice.
Hire Black speakers.
Bring in local writers, activists, and historians to speak with your employees about social justice, race relations, civil rights, and anything related to Black identity. And while this should go without saying — pay the speakers equitably. They are knowledgeable authorities on the subject and deserve proper remuneration.
Some companies volunteer with local nonprofits and charities, finding this a great way to help the community. Your team members will also bond, inspiring engagement and motivation back in the office.
Money is usually the most valuable gift for a charity, particularly for education and legal funds. Your company can pool its resources and make a donation, or hold a fundraiser to support racial justice initiatives in your area.
Partner with Black-owned companies.
Too many Black business owners struggle with operating expenses and attracting business. If your company can support and provide greater visibility to a struggling or new business, you are both likely to benefit. When choosing a business to partner with, keep in mind that Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.
Here’s a partial list of resources and black-owned businesses in Louisville and Southern Indiana that your company may find helpful:
- Louisville Scoop’s list of black-owned restaurants
- Noir Black Chamber of Commerce
- Buy Black Louisville
- LEO’s list of black-owned restaurants
- West Louisville Business Directory
For more information about making your business more diverse and inclusive, contact us today.