“Since its inception, Black History Month has never been just a celebration of Black America’s achievements and stories – it’s part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens”Dr. Theodore R. Johnson
Black History Month (also called Black Heritage Month) occurs every February in the United States. We honor the incredible contributions that the Black community has made during this time throughout US History. Celebrating black history month in the workplace brings to the forefront the value of the Black community. It provides an opportunity for us to support and empower the Black community within the workplace and outside of the workplace. With the plethora of research uncovering the racism that Black employees face, organizations need to acknowledge the historical and persisting injustice and commit to learning more and improving.
Ways to Commemorate Black History Month in the Workplace
- Host events
- Different events can be planned for Black history month. Plan training events and workshops to educate on different topics (such as Identifying and addressing microaggressions in the workplace, unconscious bias, anti-racism, etc.) Bring speakers such as authors, historians, or activists to speak to your employees about civil rights and other critical topics surrounding Black identity.
- Volunteer and serve to support social justice
- There are several ways you can volunteer in your community or virtually to support social justice. Check out this list by VolunteerMatch.org to get started.
- Amplify your Black Employee Resource Group (ERG)
- Support the events that your Black ERG wants to hold. Support by resourcing their efforts and providing visibility for these events and recognition to the organizers.
- Organize a book club
- Purchase and read books by Black authors. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of 15 books to read during Black History Month and beyond by the Innocence Project.
- Support Black-Owned Businesses
- Many Black businesses still encounter structural racism and lack the resources and experience to secure their longevity in the marketplace. Find Black-owned businesses to support. Check out your local Black Chamber of Commerce or check out this directory by the US Chamber to get started in finding Black-owned businesses to support.
- Donate to support anti-racism and equity work
- Donations shouldn’t be the only action your organization is engaged in, but supporting charities that support anti-racism can be a great additional way to commit your organization’s resources. To find some great charities, check out this list by Charity Navigator.
Avoid Performative Actions
Organizations can sometimes fall into the performative allyship when they make statements and take actions for visibility or to follow a trend without doing the deeper work of ensuring that their practices and investment align with those words and actions.
- Take a step beyond an artfully crafted LinkedIn statement.
- Reflect on the diversity in your organization and your leadership and how to dismantle challenges for Black employees to grow, thrive, and join your organization.
- Consider what DEI topics your leaders lack competence in and confidence around. Plan for year-long training on those topics.
- Assess the resistance and resources your DEI team may be facing and prepare to support and amplify their work.
While February is Black History Month, it’s important to support the Black community inside and outside your organization all year long in an authentic and meaningful way. February is a short month, so if your organization wants to commemorate Black History Month, you’ll want to start soon!