February only comes around once a year. And with that, so does Black History Month.
For decades, Americans have celebrated the nationally-recognized month to honor Black pioneers, heritage, culture and, most importantly, to affect positive change.
Despite being commemorated annually, Black History Month isn’t always celebrated at work across businesses. If your organization hasn’t participated in the festivities, it’s never too late.
Here's why you should be celebrating Black History Month at work every year, and embracing diversity, equity and inclusion 365 days a year.
One of the biggest benefits of celebrating Black History Month at work is that it celebrates diversity. Acknowledging marginalized populations—including their heritage, struggles and culture—improves awareness of others outside certain groups.
Sometimes, marginalized groups like the Black Diaspora experience being an afterthought compared to larger groups in society. And then, there are other instances where these groups are left out of poignant conversations led by more dominant groups. In turn, representation becomes an issue, leaving many people feeling voiceless.
Celebrating Black History Month promotes diversity, acknowledges that people are different and showcases they all have something valuable to contribute to society. When we celebrate our differences, it supports the idea that diversity is welcomed and treasured.
The celebration of Black heritage, or any heritage, goes beyond recognizing the achievements of certain people. It acknowledges how people across the spectrum have impacted our society and lives. It reinforces that our world is rich with perspectives that we can all learn something from, even at work.
Raise awareness about issues
When we acknowledge our differences, it also highlights that we all experience different plights. Taking the time to celebrate Black heritage opens the floor to discourse about marginalized groups’ struggles, issues and how we can affect positive change.
Encouraging dialogue also helps people understand one another. By acknowledging the past, people can understand how we arrived at what we know as “today.” With a deeper understanding, individuals are enabled to identify the complex factors that drive many contemporary issues that plague marginalized groups. With this knowledge, people can be equipped to start the necessary conversations for developing effective solutions.
Being informed is the first step to making a difference in our society and at work.
Unite the workplace
Nonetheless, Black History Month helps all to see that Black history is American history. And American history is to be celebrated by everyone. Honoring any heritage month reminds us that our differences are beautiful, and we are indeed connected.
When we recognize a peer or colleague at work, it feels good to show someone that their contributions are seen and appreciated. Taking the time to set aside our differences and opinions to share history and joy for one another’s accomplishments only implies that we care. Acknowledging and celebrating one another brings people closer together.
Reap the benefits of DEI
Diversity, equity and inclusion are now more critical than ever in society as factors continue to make our world complex. The same urgency applies to the workplace. Just because societal issues happen outside of work doesn’t mean they don’t have extenuating effects at work.
In recent years, many companies have overhauled their organization to foster inclusion, some to get ahead of the curve and others have in response to pressure amid a growing socially-conscious climate. Businesses are also ensuring equitable practices are in place to prevent alienation, discrimination and bias.
Companies putting in the necessary work to implement a culture supporting DEI have reaped tremendous benefits, including:
Higher employee satisfaction
The benefits of DEI initiatives in the workplace are undeniable. Acknowledging Black History Month is just one way to support the rich tapestry of people within your workforce.
And it shouldn’t stop there. Celebrate inclusion today and tomorrow. Your continued organizational success depends on it.