Four Ways Your Business Can Celebrate Black History Month
February marks Black History Month (BHM), a time to commemorate and celebrate the myriad contributions Black Americans have made throughout history. While Black history is something that should be ingrained in our everyday studies and discussions, BHM is a vital time to shine a spotlight on past and present atrocities to help our country heal and progress.
BHM, founded as Negro History Week, during the second week of February, by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, is an annual recognition of African-American history and culture in the United States. The second week was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, empower and spark crucial conversations surrounding Black American culture and achievements, and host performances and lectures. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as BHM. Furthermore, what your company does this month can inspire year-round action.
BHM can be a meaningful time to bridge racial divides, shed light on Black history and create opportunities for learning. To commemorate BHM, here are four ideas for your business to consider integrating into your calendar.
Connect and partner with Black-owned organizations.
Women of color account for the fastest-growing demographic of U.S. entrepreneurs, responsible for an estimated $422.5 billion in annual revenue for the economy. What better way to pay homage to Black History Month than to support Black-owned businesses? Consider electing a Black-owned catering service for events or utilizing a company’s products for employee swag or internal needs. You can also prioritize Black-owned businesses when you’re sourcing a new vendor or contractor for professional services.
Another impactful way to reinforce your support is to align your business with Black-owned companies for partner discounts on services or products. These can be shared with employees and benefit both parties. According to research, Black business owners frequently face difficulties raising capital, offering them visibility and support is one of many effective tactics for helping drive revenue and brand awareness.
Invite Black leaders as keynote speakers.
Another consideration for celebrating BHM in your office is to invite Black speakers, leaders and professionals from your industry to train, teach or educate your employees. From keynote speeches to panel discussions or lunch and learns, there’s no shortage of ways to leverage their voices for educating, training and motivating your staff.
You can extend the impact of these key learnings by sharing books penned by Black authors with your team. By furnishing employees with the opportunity to read or hear stories from different perspectives, you’re creating a space designed to foster more inclusion and understanding.
Actively support purposeful charities.
As the saying goes, we vote with our dollars. Consider making a corporate donation during Black History Month to nonprofits and charities that empower Black voices. Whether you choose a national or local organization, your company can take a stand and make a meaningful impact with a gift to a cause or charity that emphasizes racial justice and equality.
Furthermore, your organization can offer employee donation matching and match gifts your team members make to organizations that combat racism, fight for social justice or celebrate Black excellence. The potential ripple effect is powerful: This is a great opportunity to encourage your employees to get involved and educate themselves. Meaningful conversations are one of the first steps to breaking down barriers and bringing about positive lasting change.
Spotlight black voices.
In addition to inviting external industry experts to speak to your employees, consider amplifying Black voices within your organization, who are making an impact as well. In both internal and external corporate communication, feature Black employees who are driving your company’s success and making their mark on the world.
Consider a wide variety of communication vehicles for these features, like e-newsletters, internal messaging systems, web content, blogs and social media. When you elevate and tell the stories of your own Black team members, your company shows that diversity matters and makes your organization stronger.
Not only is this a fantastic way for your staff and stakeholders to learn more about their fellow colleagues, it also provides an opportunity for your organization to show these featured individuals how valued they are. This can be an effective means of furthering education and understanding.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to honoring Black History Month. However you choose to mark the occasion and celebrate Black voices, February can be a meaningful month and inspire your company to incorporate these activities and events into your calendar year-round.