Black History Month celebrates the many contributions, achievements, and rich culture of Black Americans in the U.S.
For 2023, the theme for Black History Month is “Black Resistance,” which highlights Black Americans’ fight against historical and ongoing systemic oppression.
This oppression bleeds into professional settings. Black workers in the U.S. are underemployed compared to other workers. And Black professionals who are employed report experiencing higher rates of prejudice, microaggressions, and isolation.
It’s up to company leaders to fight against systemic inequities and provide Black talent with a safe space and resources to advance in their careers at the same rate as their white, male counterparts. Black History Month is an opportunity to identify how your organization is creating a culture of belonging and investing in Black employees’ professional success.
If your team is in the beginning stages of planning Black History Month initiatives, Perfeqta compiled a list of programming ideas that fall into three pillars: Community, Culture, and Commitment.
Build a community that supports your Black employees.
The Community pillar focuses on your organization’s relationship with external stakeholders, such as your customers, philanthropy opportunities, and how people perceive your employer brand. Below are four ideas to help your team get started.
- Depending on your company, you may spotlight some of your organization’s current customers, Minority Business Enterprise vendors, or local Black-owned businesses. Doing so helps you build positive relationships and helps increase awareness of other businesses that could benefit from more visibility.
- You can support Black-owned non-profit organizations and relevant charitable causes by organizing a volunteer event for your team. Helping out organizations that support the Black community or civil rights can be a meaningful way to honor Black history in your community.
- If you cannot volunteer, you can still support charities by hosting a fundraiser. Take it one step further by implementing a company match program for donations to non-profit organizations focusing on racial equity, such as the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
- Use social media to highlight your organization’s Black History Month events and raise awareness of the importance of Black history and what it means to your organization. Make sure that your company’s efforts don’t end after you share this social media content.
Foster an inclusive culture through learning.
The Culture pillar focuses on the internal functions of your organization, mainly surrounding your HR and People functions. They may include talent management, employee experience, and learning and development.
Providing learning opportunities to all employees will help increase your team’s awareness of implicit biases in the workplace and help create a more inclusive workplace culture. Below are seven ideas to help your team get started.
- Educate yourself and your team on the culture and history of Black communities. Playing Black History Month trivia could be an engaging way for employees to learn.
- You can hold a Book Club along with a discussion on prominent Black figures or Black American history – both fiction and non-fiction. Search your community for local Black authors you can invite for a book reading and Q&A session. These book clubs can be in person or virtually.
- Host a virtual Lunch & Learn series where you invite Black History Month speakers to share their experiences in the workplace and how your team can contribute to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for Black employees.
- Mandate a company-wide training to educate employees on the fundamentals of DEI, authentic allyship, anti-bias and inclusion, and other topics.
- Another great way to improve the employee experience is by treating them to breakfast or lunch, or giving gifts from Black-owned businesses.
- Spotlight your Black team members and invite them to share their stories and recognize their contributions to making the company what it is today. Share these on social media and through company-wide communication platforms.
- Help protect Black employees’ mental health by sending out company-wide reminders with mental health resources that are available, such as health providers from diverse backgrounds, and make sure employees are equipped with the knowledge to access those resources. Your organization can also cover the cost of therapy or subscriptions to mental health apps like Calm.
Commit to long-lasting DEI initiatives.
The Commitment pillar focuses on your organization’s accountability for your DEI strategy and initiatives. Below are four ideas to help your team get started.
- Establish an Employee Resource Group (ERG) if your organization hasn’t yet. ERGs create a safe space for historically underrepresented groups and help promote workplace diversity. Once you have established ERGs, company leaders can show support by providing Black ERGs with a budget to carry out Black History Month programs. Leaders can connect with ERGs to see what they have planned for the month and help share these events across the company to increase participation.
- Include Black History Month in your Learning & Development courses. The topics can range from what Black History Month is, how to handle cultural differences in the workplace, and what implicit biases may be present in the employee lifecycle that affect Black employees. Recognize how unconscious bias affects your recruiting process and identify the role of DEI in making it more equitable.
- Continue to support Black employees beyond the month of February. Your Black employees need support year-round. Invest in their professional development by providing an L&D stipend and blocking off time in their calendars to take courses and attend virtual trainings during work hours. You can also provide career coaching to help employees improve their communication skills and leadership skills, and create a career plan to level up in the workplace.
- Demonstrate and reaffirm your organization’s commitment to nurturing an inclusive and equitable workplace by engaging in ongoing dialogue, taking intentional action, and maintaining transparent accountability with the understanding that this is a long-term investment and not a one-off conversation. Continue to share upcoming efforts that are part of this commitment.
Invest in your Black employees’ professional development by partnering with Perfeqta’s Career Coaches.
Perfeqta’s Certified Career Coaches work with employees at all levels to create a strategy that helps them scale impact in their role and at your organization.
Partnering with Perfeqta’s Career Coaches can yield the following results:
- Increased engagement and connection between teams.
- Increased performance management skills to leverage the talents of others.
- Enhanced development of overall emotional intelligence, allowing team members to maximize their leadership capacity.
- Clearer communication, effective decision-making, and enhanced self-awareness so team members are more productive and forward-thinking.
If you’re interested in working with Perfeqta’s Career Coaches, get in touch with our team here.