Stefani Castro
February 15, 2022

5 ways you can invest in your Black employees during Black History Month and beyond

Black History Month is on everyone’s company calendar but it might not feel like a celebratory month to your Black employees if not planned properly and thoughtfully. 

It’s up to company leaders to take the initiative to make Black History Month more than a marketing campaign. This month is an opportunity to reflect on your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and work towards making your workplace safe for your Black employees. 

For companies that want to support their Black employees throughout February and beyond, we’ve listed 5 ways you can invest in their professional development and build a sense of belonging at your organization. 

1. Mandate a company-wide training.

Company trainings are a great way to educate all of your team members on being allies in the workplace, without burdening your Black employees to do the teaching. Reminder: Your Black employees are not spokespeople for the entire Black community. These workshops can be empowering and create a safe space for all employees to discuss their thoughts and any feelings they may not feel comfortable sharing outside of this discussion.

Trainings can be customized to your company’s needs. Information from these workshops should then be implemented into your company’s daily practices and scheduled quarterly to track progress and maintain a flow of open communication between your employees and senior management. 

You can book a company-wide training with Perfeqta on:

  • Understanding DEI
  • Authentic Allyship
  • Anti-Bias & Inclusion
  • And other topics 

2. Offer career development opportunities. 

Black employees are often overlooked when it comes to skill development and promotional growth. Black professionals hold only 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles and less than 1 percent of all Fortune 500 CEO positions. The lack of representation of Black people in C-level and senior positions makes it harder for entry-level and mid-level Black employees to envision themselves in higher roles. 

Company leaders can invest in their Black employees’ professional development by:

  • Giving them a professional development stipend and making sure they use it.
  • Blocking off time in their calendars to take courses and attend virtual trainings during work hours.
  • Provide career coaching to help employees improve their communication skills, leadership skills, and create a career plan to level up in the workplace. 

From there, it is the responsibility of management and leaders to check in with their employees, give feedback focused on their skills, and bridge the gap to promotion. 

3. Provide mental health support.

This year’s theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness. Investing in the mental health of your Black employees is pivotal to their wellbeing because of the microaggressions they experience on a day-to-day basis. 

Check on your employees if you notice a change in their performance or see them struggling to stay engaged. Send 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.

4. Plan non-work-related activities. 

Along with curriculum-based workshops, your organization can plan activities that celebrate the rich history and culture of Black Americans. 
Consider starting a book club that features Black authors and highlights Black accomplishments and Black leaders. You can also have interactive movie gatherings with a discussion afterwards to communicate broader themes like Black success stories, coming of age, love, or happiness. It’s important to avoid choosing topics around Black trauma and pain. 

If your company is based remotely, consider virtual events or webinars that are hosted by members of the Black community, such as the Smithsonian Virtual Cooking Demo, to directly support their work.

5. Build an effective DEI strategy.

The best way to support your current and future Black employees is by building a DEI strategy that addresses the gaps in your organization’s current policies. Here are the first 3 steps to creating a DEI strategy:

  • Gather data to better understand where your current gaps are within organization policies, employee needs, and company culture.
  • Incorporate input from a diverse set of employees at various levels in your organization, across different business functions, and from a variety of backgrounds. 
  • Identify metrics to track progress and define what success looks like at every step.

Black History Month should be all about acknowledging and celebrating your Black employees, while creating a year-long plan to promote their professional growth and overall well being. In the end, you’ll see higher engagement, retention, and interest from diverse talent. 

If you’re interested in booking a company training around DEI this year, or getting started on your organization’s DEI roadmap, get in touch with our team to learn more about our services.  

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