While it’s important for companies to celebrate Black History Month every February, you can continue to honor and recognize Black leaders throughout the year. Your company has countless opportunities year-round to show support for black culture and to amplify stories of impactful African Americans. Let’s look at some ways that your business can celebrate Black History beyond just one month out of the year!
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is an annual celebration of African American history and culture. Its origins date back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson, “the father of Black history,” created “Negro History Week.” The celebration spread in popularity, with many schools expanding it to an entire month. Finally, in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month.
Why It’s Important to Celebrate Black Excellence
Continuing to honor Black history and recognize the achievements of African Americans beyond just one month is incredibly important. It allows us to remember, recognize, and celebrate the rich history of marginalized communities. It’s also a great way for businesses to show their support for Black employees, customers, and partners.
Celebrating Black excellence doesn’t have to be limited to the month of February. In fact, this should be done all year long!
5 Ways to Honor the Black Experience Year-Round
Whether you are a manager or the CEO, you can find ways to celebrate Black excellence in the workplace. Here are five ideas to get you started.
Support Black-Owned Companies
Invest in Black-owned businesses. Look for ways your company can purchase from or partner with companies founded by African Americans, and work together for mutual success.
Recognize Black Leaders in the Workplace
Recognize the contributions of African American employees. Feature them in internal communications or newsletters and celebrate their successes on social media. Give them opportunities to speak at company-wide events.
Be careful not to ask them to pay the “diversity tax” by assuming they will want to lead all DEI initiatives or plan all Black History Month events. Ideally you will have a separate budget to implement DEI initiatives.
Commit to DEI Initiatives
Make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of your company’s long-term strategy. Diversify your hiring practices to give all strong candidates a fair chance, regardless of their racial background. Review internal policies to ensure equitable treatment of all employees.
Invest in unconscious bias training for all employees, and share resources to create a more inclusive work culture.
Plan Social Events with a Diverse Focus
There are so many ways companies can celebrate Black excellence through optional social events, held during or after work hours. Here are just a few ideas:
- Host a Speaker Series: Invite influential African Americans or members of your community to share their stories, struggles, and successes in an educational speaker series.
- Start a Book Club: Choose a different book each month written by a Black author. While Maya Angelou and Alice Walker are always great picks, also consider some newer voices, like Bernice L. McFadden or Colson Whitehead.
- Organize a Field Trip: Visit an African American museum or cultural center and explore the rich history of African Americans in your city.
Amplify Black Voices
Highlight the accomplishments of prominent Black leaders and entrepreneurs within your industry, and encourage employees to learn more about them. While it’s important to celebrate historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman, it’s just as important to consider African Americans who are making a difference today.
Keep Celebrating Black History
Remember: Black history doesn’t end after February! When you make an effort to amplify Black voices and celebrate diversity in the workplace, you continue the tradition of Black leaders and allies working together towards a more just and equitable world.
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