Many of us might find ourselves asking: how can we honor or celebrate Black History Month this year? As a facilitator, I think that having honest, guided conversations that lead to action is one way to honor Black History Month. I’ve seen companies bring in guest speakers, support black owned businesses, donate to organizations, etc. While all of that is important, I also think that having conversations with employees can support us in making sure that our external efforts align with our internal efforts. One way to do that is to open a dialogue to talk about the construction of race, the impact of racism, and how we can adopt an anti-racist framework to dismantle racism in our workplace and beyond.
Of course this isn’t easy, especially if you’re discussing these topics in the workplace. However, if you’re ready to take the next step forward, you can start thinking of ways to incorporate this within structures you already have. For example, you can send a calendar invite to employees and block off one day out of the week where employees can come together to discuss certain prompts, if you have an employee resource group (ERG) you can structure the next few meetings to align with Black History Month, or you can expand team meeting times for those who may not be able to meet after work hours. Below are guiding questions you can use to structure your conversations.
The following questions are categorized by the ways racism manifests in our society and workplaces. I’ve used the 4 I’s (ideological, internalized, interpersonal, and institutional) of oppression framework to help have deeper conversations. You may want to share this with employees beforehand in case they have additional questions they want to discuss.
Note: These questions are best answered when facilitated by a person or group of people who have facilitation experience and a deep understanding about issues related to privilege, identity, power, and racism. It’s important that individuals and groups create guidelines and establish trust with one another before having these conversations. If you’re interested in facilitating conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and are in need of support and guidance, learn more about our leading DEI conversations program.
Ideological – the stories, narratives, and beliefs about race
Internalized- acceptance of narratives about racial superiority and inferiority
Interpersonal- our attitudes and behaviors that manifest into bias, discrimination, etc.
Institutional- policies, procedures and norms that uphold racist attitudes
While these questions are not an exhaustive list, it could be a start or continuation for companies working to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. To learn about additional ways you can honor and celebrate Black History month, check out our latest video.