Black History Month was created around a century ago to recognize Black men and women and their countless contributions to society. This federally recognized celebration has become one of the most celebrated cultural heritage months according to a professor of social studies education.
Focusing on DEI in the Workplace
This month is a reminder to bolster DEI strategies. DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and DEI strategies are initiatives that acknowledge and celebrate differences (race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.) and promote fairness, justice, and togetherness.
To improve workplace DEI, employers should:
- Value employees all year. Black History Month celebrates Black history, culture, and achievement, and this celebration should be built on a foundation of respect and genuine inclusion that is shown daily. Every workplace should have employees who feel welcome to present as their authentic selves.
- Identify areas for improvement. It’s important to gather employee feedback on DEI efforts and their effectiveness. The best way to grow and improve is to ask for feedback and suggestions. When areas of improvement are made known, action steps should be put in place and executed.
- Include all employees in Black History Month festivities. This month is the perfect opportunity to have open conversations and boost company comradery. Celebrating employees should be done openly, increasing morale and creating deeper connections. These relationships should be encouraged to grow year-round, strengthening ties between individuals and also the workplace as a whole.
- Focus on the attraction and retention of Black employees. If the workplace does not have a diverse group of people employed or applying for jobs, the company needs to consider why. Workplaces need to create an environment that offers opportunities and cultivates growth.
- Listen to its employees. The best way to ensure an authentic and appreciated celebration is to ask for insights. Black employees are the heart of Black History Month and should be consulted regarding what would be most appropriate and impactful during this time.
Black History Month is a wonderful time to go above and beyond to commemorate the importance of Black employees and their influence in the workplace.