February is Black History month, the month many companies highlight prominent Black historical figures. Commemorating historical figures is a good start to honoring Black history month, but don’t stop there. Take it further by investing your time, resources, and platform. And while these feel most relevant during Black History Month, don’t lose sight of them after February. Make your long term commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion visible all year long.
Invest your Time: Visit a Monument, Learn its History
Visiting a monument and learning its history is one way to take a moment to commemorate Black history and Black people. These monuments are a hefty investment of public resources and serve to remind us about historical events, values, or people that made a difference in American history. For example, the recently erected statue in Boston, “The Embrace,” cost $10 Million and captures MLK and Coretta Scott King in an embrace after it was announced that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Learning more about MLK’s history, what he stood for, and what he achieved helps keep the momentum going toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. Chances are that there are monuments near you that you can visit. Go solo or bring the family/coworkers along and invest time to learn and understand Black history.
Invest your Resources: Switch to a Black-Owned Business
It’s important to think about ways to use our resources to empower Black-owned businesses. Black-owned businesses often struggle because they frequently do not have legacy knowledge in business ownership or access to investors and resources for them to thrive. Support through a one-time purchase may make us feel good for a moment and result in a temporary boost in the company’s revenue, but don’t stop there. Build a relationship with Black-owned businesses for a longer-term commitment that allows you to learn more about the business. As an example, you can use a realtor from the Black National Association of Real Estate Brokers to purchase your next home, or you can encourage your company to switch to a Black-owned vendor or two.
Invest your Platform: Commit your Skills and Reach
There are several ways you can invest your platform in honoring Black heritage. If you have a social media following, spread the word about a Black-owned business, support a cause that impacts Black communities or express your views on diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you possess a specific skill set, volunteer your services to a Black-owned business that may need it. If you are a leader with influence in your company, sponsor Black employees to create more equity in your organization and industry. Consider the various ways that you can begin to invest your platform in honoring Black heritage this month.