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February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to the observance of Black Americans and important events throughout history. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is vastly important to workplace culture. To learn more about how to celebrate Black History Month, read on!

What Is a Black History Month Workplace Celebration?

Black History Month was officially established in 1976 when President Gerald Ford stated, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

A Black History Month workplace celebration is a company-led observance of Black History Month. The company should share history, important people, dates, and facts, and encourage the workforce to participate in continuing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Why is it Important for the Workplace to Celebrate Black History Month?

DEI efforts in the workplace are important for employees to feel welcome and appreciated and a necessary focus for companies who wish to drive excellence and retain top talent.

  • Diversity. Diversity has two important benefits in the workplace. First, it helps employees recognize and understand societal injustices. Second, it helps businesses stay relevant to global audiences and drives productivity.
  • Inclusion and belonging. Inclusion and belonging is a more recent workplace concept and it’s something that companies can always improve. Celebrating Black History Month is a step toward inclusion for an organization.
  • Employee appreciation. Employees who feel recognized by their workplace are more motivated to do their best and complete their tasks. DEI efforts help recognize and celebrate employees’ differences.
  • Build engagement. Employee engagement is critical to an organization’s success. The more engaged your employees are, the more productive they are, which leads to greater profits for your company and a stronger organizational culture.

Tips For a Successful Black History Month Workplace Celebration

Tip 1: Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion

Encourage employees to learn about the origins of the month and Black culture. Prior to becoming the celebration we know today, there was “Negro History Week” which was first observed in 1926. It was founded by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH, 1915) and was celebrated the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Tip 2: Listen to Music

Put together an inclusive playlist! Find and download a playlist that celebrates Black musicians and artists.

Tip 3: Show Appreciation

Give recognition. There is never a bad time to remind employees how valuable they are and how important they are to the success of your organization. Whether it’s a speech, one-on-one interaction, handwritten notes, an interactive sticky note board, or small group conversations, take every opportunity to recognize and affirm employees.

Black History Month Workplace Celebration Activity Ideas

For ideas on ways to celebrate Black History Month, read on.

Guest Speakers

There are speakers who specialize in DEI training and conversations. You can choose from a panel of leaders or internal employees who want to share their stories or an expert in DEI to come speak to your workforce. All employees could benefit from engaging in dialogue about Black lives and culture. You can also give employees the opportunity to ask questions that are impactful and learn about issues that are affecting your workforce.

Black History Trivia or Bingo

You can put a game together to encourage learning through Black history trivia or bingo. For trivia, find resources with information online. For Bingo, put together a bingo board with different things employees can do like watching a documentary on Black history and culture or reading a book by a Black author.

Promote Black Arts

If you have a workforce that enjoys the arts, you could compile a list of suggested films, literature, documentaries, or TV series by artists of color.

Support Black-Owned Business

You can support Black-owned businesses in a couple of different ways. Find local Black-owned non-profits and encourage employees to volunteer. Some companies provide employees with paid time off specifically for volunteering. You could also choose a day for employees to volunteer together. Another option for supporting Black-owned businesses in different industries is to research and share Black-owned brands with your workforce to encourage employees to shop for their products. Some brands can be bought at major retailers, local stores, or online.

Celebrate Black History Themes

Each year, the president endorses a specific theme for Black History Month. For example, in 2022, the theme is Black History and Wellness. The intent of this theme is to recognize the contributions of Black communities and individuals in every area of wellness, including medical practitioners, midwives, doulas, naturopaths, scholars, and more.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Black History Month Workplace Celebrations

Make it interactive. Regardless of where employees are located, they should feel included and be able to participate. Send out information about Black history, encourage employees to share their stories and to contribute by sharing names or stories of Black excellence that should be celebrated.

DEI efforts in the workplace are important for employees to feel welcome and appreciated. Companies who make these efforts drive excellence and retain top talent. Diversity and inclusion help employees recognize and understand societal injustices and help businesses stay relevant to global audiences, all while driving productivity.

Colleen manages a team of HR consultants that work with a variety of industries, specializing in the fields of human resources, strategic planning, and human capital management. Colleen applies expert knowledge, industry experience, and relentless energy to solving companies’ issues. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management as well as women in leadership groups. She is PHR, SPHR, and SHRM-SCP certified. She has an awesome pet cat, Attila and, when she’s not working she loves to travel, enjoy the great outdoors, and volunteer with different local charities.

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