How to celebrate Black History Month at work
8 meaningful ideas for how to celebrate Black History Month at work
Black History Month encourages Americans to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of African Americans of the past and present. Recognizing Black History Month in your workplace is an excellent way to promote diversity and inclusion while showing your support to employees and customers of color. Creating purposeful ways to educate your employees about the significance of Black History Month communicates to your employees the importance of recognizing the dynamic contributions of all people to society. Learn how to celebrate Black History Month at work in a meaningful way.
Support Black-owned businesses in your community
Supporting local Black-owned businesses can raise the profile of these companies and help the entrepreneurs behind these businesses feel a part of the culture and business climate of your community. Ideas for supporting Black-owned companies include:
- Treating your team to lunch at a Black-owned restaurant
- Recognizing employee achievements with gift cards for Black-owned businesses
- Highlighting local Black-owned organizations on your social media pages
- Forming strategic partnerships with local Black-owned businesses for performing services or providing products
Demonstrating this business support can extend well beyond the celebration of Black History Month in February. Look for opportunities throughout the year to connect your employees with Black-owned businesses and their activities in your community.
Make a charitable donation
Focusing charitable giving on organizations and movements that support members of the Black community during February is another way to demonstrate support during Black History Month. Informing your employees about your donations can motivate them to contribute themselves to causes that matter most to them. Sharing the news of your company's donations on social media with links to Black-led nonprofits can highlight the many organizations and causes that serve individuals in the Black community.
Consider selecting a Black-led nonprofit that aligns with your business and its goals. Some excellent options include the following:
- The 100 Black Men of America organization empowers young Black people to achieve their potential by offering mentorship and leadership development opportunities.
- The Black AIDS Institute aims to prevent the spread of AIDS among individuals within the Black community.
- Black Girls CODE encourages young Black girls to learn more about technology and the career possibilities that technology can offer them.
- Black Lives Matter condemns police brutality against and advocates for social justice for members of the Black community.
- The NAACP supports equality for members of the Black community.
- SisterLove helps women access sexual and reproductive testing and health care, focusing on Black women.
- The Thurgood Marshall College Fund helps Black individuals access higher education and career preparation programs.
- The Trans Women of Color Collective supports the leadership aspirations of transgender and gender non-conforming people of color.
Volunteer with a Black-led nonprofit
You could take your support of Black-led nonprofits one step further by volunteering. Volunteering can help your team members feel more engaged with businesses and the community. You could contact a Black-led nonprofit within your business community and ask whether you can coordinate a day all employees could volunteer as a team-building exercise. Alternatively, you might grant a volunteer leave day to individuals who want to volunteer to support a Black-led nonprofit of their choosing during February.
Organize a diversity and inclusion event
Diversity and inclusion events can help your team members understand one another better so they can become more accepting of differences and work more harmoniously together in the workplace. They can also improve your corporate culture and enhance employee engagement. Streaming these events via video-sharing platforms help remote employees participate. Allow time for questions at the end of the event so your team members can improve their understanding. Let these event ideas inspire your own:
- Ask Black entrepreneurs to speak about their experiences in the business world.
- Invite a Black historian to discuss how African Americans have impacted your community's history and culture.
- Lead a seminar discussing how your workplace could be more inclusive.
- Invite a DEI trainer to speak to your team about relevant topics, such as inclusive language or diverse representation in marketing.
Create a Black History Month playlist
Creating a Black History Month playlist featuring Black musicians can improve your team's performance. Experts say people often feel happier and do better on cognitive tasks when listening to music they enjoy. To ensure your playlist features music everyone likes, ask your team to suggest their favorite music by Black artists or use a tool like Spotify, which lets people add songs to a created playlist.
Note that music can distract some people, so you may encourage employees who like music to listen using headphones or create quiet spaces without music. The following songs are an excellent starting point for your playlist:
- “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron
- “Freedom” by Beyoncé, featuring Kendrick Lamar
- “Glory” by Common, featuring John Legend
- “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
- “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
- “Black Man in a White World” by Michael Kiwanuka
- “Don't Touch My Hair” by Solange, featuring Sampha
"Recognizing Black History Month in your workplace is an excellent way to promote diversity and inclusion while showing your support to employees and customers of color."
Promote Black literature
Black literature gives readers valuable insight into the experiences of Black people. Reading can also improve communication skills, increase empathy, and reduce stress, making it an engaging activity for any employee. Promoting Black literature seems natural for organizations like libraries and schools. However, any business can celebrate Black History Month in this way. For example, your business might hold a month-long reading event, with suggested works and meetings for discussing the books and what they've taught you. Some excellent books by Black writers include:
- “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
- “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
- “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
- “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
- “Go Tell It On the Mountain” by James Baldwin
Become a mentor
As a business leader, you have much to teach the next generation interested in pursuing a career in your field. Black History Month is the ideal time to share your knowledge with an aspiring Black entrepreneur from your community. You might mentor a less experienced person within your organization. You might also partner with high school or college students, helping them define their career goals and upload a resume highlighting their skills and experiences. Volunteering your services with nonprofit organizations, schools, and colleges can help you connect with these young people.
Establish an employee resource group for Black employees
If your business doesn't already have an employee resource group for Black employees, Black History Month is the ideal time to create one. Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led collectives that help employees connect over their shared experiences, support one another, and improve the workplace for people like them. Your employee resource group members may highlight issues for Black employees and suggest more inclusive hiring and workplace policies. Giving the employee resource group an online space to communicate and collaborate can empower remote and in-office employees.
Black History Month provides an excellent opportunity to unite your team members and celebrate the accomplishments of African American individuals from history and those working within your community and your organization. It can also help your business become a more nurturing and inclusive workplace where all individuals can thrive and develop professionally.
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