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7 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in the Workplace

Seven leaders share insights on how they celebrate Black History Month and make a lasting impact on their organizations.

February 14th, 2024

February is Black History Month – an important moment to commemorate each year within the workplace and beyond. But how do you go beyond checking a box and actually make a lasting impact on diversity and inclusion at your organization? 

To help you out, we've gathered seven unique perspectives from leaders on how their organizations celebrate this important time to help you get inspired to highlight Black voices and experiences in February and the rest of the year. 

What is Black History Month?

Celebrated every year during the month of February in the U.S. and Canada, Black History Month originated from historian Carter G. Woodson's Negro History Week, which was first observed in 1926. Woodson created this event to promote the study of Black history as part of mainstream historical narratives.

Over time, this expanded into a month-long observance that was officially declared Black History Month in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. In the years since, Canada and multiple European and African countries have also begun celebrating Black History Month.

Every year since 1928, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) chooses a theme for the event in the U.S. Recent themes include:

  • Black Resistance

  • Black Health and Wellness

  • The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

In 2024, the theme is African Americans and the Arts.

How Can Organizations Celebrate Black History Month in the Workplace?

Celebrating Black History Month in the workplace is a meaningful way to recognize the contributions and achievements of Black individuals in your organization, industry, and beyond. 

Here are seven insights from seven leaders on how they celebrate Black History Month in their organizations.

1. Reflect and Elevate Black Voices

Recognizing the importance of listening and learning, the team at Checkr prioritizes elevating Black voices throughout the year:

“Companies should focus on elevating and listening to Black voices and perspectives in their own organizations.

We use the month to reflect on how we're serving our Black community and how we can improve in the coming year. Representation matters, so we elevate their voices and let them tell their own stories through our website and social media. We want our employees to share what the month means to them, how they celebrate, and what it's like being a part of the Black community at Checkr.”

Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer, Checkr

2. Partner with Local Black Businesses

SelectSoftware Reviews' Black History Month initiative focused on community and partnering with local Black businesses and artists:

"We recognize Black History Month with a strong emphasis on community involvement and support. A particularly successful initiative from the past involved partnering with local businesses and artists. 

We organized a community fair that not only showcased their products and art but also provided a platform for these entrepreneurs and artists to share their stories and experiences. This event not only supported the local community economically but also created a space for cultural exchange and understanding within our organization and the broader community."

Phil Strazzulla, Founder, SelectSoftware Reviews

3. Support the Black Community with Grants

The team at Million Dollar Sellers utilizes another community-driven initiative, this time with a focus on grants:

"We honor Black History Month with a focus on philanthropy and supporting the community. A standout initiative from previous years involves setting up a grant program to support Black-owned small businesses and nonprofits. 

We engage our employees in the process by having them nominate and vote for organizations they believe make a significant impact. This not only supports the community financially but also increases our team's awareness of and involvement in local initiatives and the challenges they face.”

Ian Sells, CEO, Million Dollar Sellers

4. Spotlight Black Professionals

Other organizations, like The Content Authority, foster a dedication to inclusivity that extends beyond February, reflected in their DEI-led workshops and discussions that empower their team to champion diversity in the industry:

"Here at our company, our 'Spotlight Series' is a significant initiative during our Black History Month initiative. Through our social media and blogs, we highlight prominent Black professionals in content and digital marketing, educating our team and audience about their contributions and promoting inclusivity. We actively collaborate with Black creators to amplify diverse voices. 

Our year-round DEI-led workshops and discussions emphasize the importance of Black history in our industry, enhancing our team's understanding of Black heritage. These initiatives reflect our dedication to inclusivity, learning, and promoting diversity in the industry."

Shawn Manaher, Founder, The Content Authority

5. Host Black History Trivia Nights

Sylvane gets creative with Black History Month, hosting engaging weekly trivia nights dedicated to Black achievements and contributions:

"We host a weekly trivia night with questions dedicated to Black history and culture. Our trivia nights happen every Friday for the whole month. 

All questions are related to significant events in Black history, such as the civil rights movement, abolition, and other notable figures, achievements, and contributions to the arts, sports, and science. Doing this is a great way to educate everyone in our company about Black history in a fun and interactive way that engages all participants."

Meg Hellerstedt, President, Sylvane

6. Hold Workshops on Systemic Issues

Stepping beyond celebration, Supple Digital delves into action by unpacking systemic issues through expert-led workshops:

"A key initiative we've implemented involves hosting workshops and seminars focused on understanding and addressing systemic issues affecting the Black community. 

These sessions are led by experts in the field and include topics such as unconscious bias, the history of race relations, and actionable steps toward creating a more inclusive workplace. The success of these workshops has been evident in the positive changes in our organizational culture and the increased awareness among our employees."

Hardy Desai, Founder, Supple Digital

7. Host a Virtual Speaker Series Featuring Black Leaders

People 2U takes a similar initiative, with a powerful virtual speaker series featuring influential Black leaders:

"At our company, we celebrate Black History Month by organizing a virtual speaker series featuring influential Black leaders. This initiative aims to educate and promote understanding while fostering diversity and inclusion.

Past successes include heightened employee engagement through open dialogue. This helps create a sense of unity, which positively impacts workplace culture. We believe these initiatives contribute to building a more inclusive and respectful work environment."

Pat Schirripa, CEO, People 2U

Beyond Black History Month

While Black History Month provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate diversity and amplify Black voices in the workplace, these efforts to build a diverse and inclusive workplace should be ongoing. This can involve establishing a DEI policy to nurture inclusivity and encouraging employee-led and diversity-focused initiatives and events.

The journey to diversity, equity, and inclusion starts with a single thread, but sustained engagement and empowering action truly build a workplace where everyone can thrive. 

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