We’re at that time of year again where many of us are wondering how to honor Black History Month in the workplace. While many of us might be starting a book club, putting together an event, or having intentional conversations, some of us might also be thinking of ways we can maintain the momentum in 2022 and beyond. If you aren’t already doing the following, here are four action steps you can take today to honor Black History Month every day.
We have a long history of Black people in the United States enduring racial discrimination and unjust treatments in the workplace. As a result, Black folx and their allies have fought hard to create equitable institutions and an overall just society. While we still have a long way to go, historical efforts like the civil rights and labor movements have created opportunities for many of us to be in the positions that we are in today. Whether it’s providing access to join a labor union, speaking up and asking for racial representation across a company’s hierarchy, or fighting back against discriminatory hiring and firing practices, countless activists have laid the groundwork for us to build on and continue their work to make our companies and organizations racially equitable places. Perhaps this year you can learn more about the history of the people who’ve worked towards equitable change at your company and within your community.
2. Embrace diversity but don’t be colorblind
We’ve likely all heard the following statement before: “I don’t see color, I treat everyone the same.” While the possible intent of this statement is to create a sense of acceptance and community within the workplace, it doesn’t honor the truth about who we are, our experience with race and the implications of racism. Ideally we’d love to live in a society where skin color doesn’t dictate the way we treat people, but that hasn’t been the case. Furthermore, color blindness absolves us from our personal responsibility to understand how systemic racism has advantaged white people and disadvantaged Black people and other people of color. If we are to actively embrace diversity in the workplace, it’s important to not only recognize and celebrate our differences (and celebrate them year-round, not just during one month only), but to also address the inequities that exist due to historical and present day racism.
3. Use an anti-racist lens during your day-to-day
Last year we shared a list of questions about the ways racism may be showing up at various levels (ideologically, internally, interpersonally and institutionally) in our personal and professional lives. Part of honoring the history of Black folx is to actively rewrite a new narrative where racism doesn’t destroy the livelihood of Black employees, families and communities. In practice this may look like assessing your policies and hiring practices, amplifying the voices of your Black colleagues or calling in/out a racial microaggression during a meeting. Whatever it is you choose to do, the goal is to figure out how your everyday actions align with being anti-racist both in and out of the workplace.
4. Support or partner with Black-owned businesses and vendors
Thinking about sending a care package to employees? Need to set up your external meetings with ease? Looking for a venue or virtual platform to use during your next conference or meeting? If so, today might be a good time to start supporting or partnering with local and national Black business owners. Whether you’re shopping with Bifties for corporate gifts, using Calendly for your scheduling purposes or thinking of joining Virtual Coworking for your collaboration needs, there are several options available to you!
There are so many ways we can honor Black History Month on a day-to-day basis. We’d love to feature what you and/or your company are doing in our February newsletter. Feel free to send us an email at [email protected] with the subject line: BHM 2022.