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Black History Month is a significant opportunity for organizations to support underrepresented minorities in the workplace. Whether you’ve hosted events and raised awareness in the past or you’re starting new inclusion initiatives this year, Black History Month is a crucial time to bring DEI front and center. Here are a few ways to celebrate Black History Month at your organization this year.
1. Volunteer with a nonprofit that supports the Black community
The Black community has faced a long history of systemic racism. There are many urban, suburban, and rural Black communities that are disproportionally impoverished and in need of support. Luckily, there are countless national and local nonprofits and charities that your organization can partner with during Black History Month. Consider creating opportunities for your employees to volunteer with a nonprofit in your city or town. And don't forget that you can organize these kinds of activities outside of Black History Month. Look for ways to build long-term partnerships with local organizations for greater impact.
2. Celebrate the past and present of the Black community
The Black community has a rich history, and Black History Month is a wonderful time to learn about it more intentionally. African-American leaders in the U.S. Civil Rights movement, Afro-Caribbean activists, Black musicians and artists – there are so many visionaries, causes, and current events to explore during this commemorative time.
Consider sending your people a daily quote from a different Black leader or sharing an important event in recent Black history. Even if these educational blurbs are short, you can still convey the significance, breadth, and depth of Black history to your employees.
3. Recognize Black employees in your organization
While learning about Black leaders who made an impact in the past is fantastic, don’t overlook the incredible people on your own team who are currently making an impact. Give the underrepresented minorities in your organization a chance to share their experiences if they so choose. Being able to “pass the mic” can create opportunities for other employees to learn about their co-workers' experiences, challenges, and lives outside of work. It's this recognition in safe spaces that allow for greater inclusivity at your organization.
4. Organize a book club featuring Black authors
A great way to interact with Black History Month is by reading the books, poems, and stories written by Black authors, past and present. Whether you read historical accounts from freed slaves or fictional works by modern Black authors, intentionally engaging with these kinds of books will broaden your employees’ horizons and start meaningful conversations.
Start with creating or finding a book list and organize recurring meetings throughout Black History Month to discuss the week’s reading. And the best part is, you can continue the book club after February ends.
5. Promote your employee resource groups
Many organizations have formal or informal groups dedicated to supporting Black employees. For example, at Ceridian, we have nine voluntary, employee-led resource groups called YOUnity groups. Members of the Ceridian Black Employee Network promote and support the needs of Black employees at our organization all year long.
If you don’t already have an employee resource group focused on supporting underrepresented minorities in your organization, now is the time to start one. Black History Month is an effective 28-day period of intense focus on the Black community. But there is still work to be done all the other months of the year.
Don’t let the progress stop when March begins. Get creative, and make sure all your employees have the resources and support they need.