February is a time to honor the struggles and achievements of the African American community. You may want to invest in learning more about African American history or familiarizing yourself with modern-day issues. In short, there are many different ways to celebrate Black History Month.
When it comes to the workplace, now is a great time to focus on creating an inclusive, diverse, and fair environment. Business owners and workplace managers are especially in a position to make a difference.
Use this guide for celebrating Black History Month at work, including helpful tips you can implement at this time and all year round.
Support Black-owned businesses
Supporting Black entrepreneurs and their businesses is one of the most impactful ways to stand behind the community. The good news is that there are a ton of Black-owned clothing, tech, and beauty brands to choose from.
You should also look into exploring local Black-owned businesses in your area. This could be restaurants, retail shops, dry cleaners, or other service-based businesses. Consider holding a luncheon catered by your favorite black eatery. You can even incentivize employees to do their own research on Black History Month and hand out products from Black-owned businesses as awards.
Even throughout the year, make an effort to hold buy products or outsource services to Black-owned businesses.
Give back to Black charities
If you have some extra cash on hand, make sure to donate towards charities and organizations that are actively empowering Black communities. Holding a company-wide fundraiser can also be a great way to raise funds for a good cause.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA), and Black Girls CODE are all nationally-recognized organizations empowering the Black community through educational programs and other resources.
You can also explore local charities and initiatives in your city that support Black communities and Black youth. Sometimes, the biggest impact comes from localized efforts.
Oftentimes, donating your time can make just as powerful of an impact as donating your funds. Consider introducing a company program that encourages employees to volunteer at local non-profit organizations. Explore initiatives aimed at empowering Black communities, neighborhoods, or youth in your area.
Maybe your employees can offer free classes to kids and young professionals, career counseling, sponsor a youth sports team, partner with a food bank, or even grow a community garden. The opportunities to make a change are endless and you have room to get creative!
Plus, you’ll boost team morale and company culture by having everyone join together to make a positive impact.
Start a newsletter
Consider sending out a company-wide newsletter or email blast featuring historical Black icons or modern-day leaders. You could also use a newsletter as an opportunity to highlight Black brands and local Black-owned businesses in your area.
While you’ll definitely want to host this newsletter throughout the month of February, however, you should also consider sending it out periodically throughout the year. Especially as new initiatives and developments take place within the Black community.
Invite Black speakers to talk to your team
Consider inviting a guest speaker to come in and talk to your team about diversity, race, cultural sensitivity, and current events in the Black community. This can be a great way to learn about major themes affecting the Black community and bridge racial gaps.
It can also be a chance to open up difficult, but powerful conversations about diversity, inclusion, cultural issues, and the best way to move forward. Make sure to encourage questions and active listening.
Create youth and intern programs
Have you thought about introducing a youth educational program or internship program aimed at underrepresented communities?
By donating either time or money, your team could effectively launch a youth-orientated initiative. You could focus on teaching skills, career advice, resume reviews, or even hosting outdoor activities.
An internship or mentorship program is another great way to make your company more diverse while simultaneously giving Black youth an opportunity to spearhead their future. It’s also a great way to discover emerging talent in your community and find outstanding future employees.
Display local art
Gifted Black artists are everywhere. Depending on the city you live in, there’s bound to be a community of budding Black talent. Take it upon yourself to explore Black artists in your area and bring them back into the workplace.
Consider displaying pieces of art in your office or promoting local gallery exhibitions. You can also work on bringing Black art, film, and literature into the conversation.
Start a book club
A great way to promote Black literature is by starting a book club. Make sure to read a mix of both literatures as well as books that discuss the realities of Black America, Black history, and minority experiences.
This can help further discussions of diversity and inclusion, as well as make readers appreciate the stories writers from all kinds of different cultural backgrounds have to offer.
Host a book reading or film viewing event
Aside from starting a book club, another way to appreciate Black artists is by hosting a book reading event or even a film viewing event. Put together a list of award-winning feature films, independent productions, documentaries, or even short films surrounding Black history, actors, screenwriters, or directors. Make sure to leave time after the viewing to discuss the film and connect it to real-world events.
Banking for Black communities
As you celebrate Black History Month, invest your time and energy into learning about Black culture by supporting local Black businesses. It’s always helpful to learn from others, which is why you’ll want to look for Black leaders in your community or in the media that are paving the way forward.
While it’s great to put in the effort to create change in your office and local community, you also want to make sure you’re being an active listener, and stay receptive to the ongoing issues and achievements of the Black community.