Happy Black History Month! It’s great that this honoring of African American heritage and achievements is celebrated in February because it can serve as a warm up to how we plan to celebrate diversity all year long.
Celebrating minority milestones and holidays in the workplace is a way of celebrating diversity itself. It demonstrates an inclusive culture as well as shows employees how to be open to people from different backgrounds.
Nurturing diversity makes good business sense. There are numerous benefits to having a workforce filled with individuals from different races, ages, national origins, genders, socioeconomic classes, etc.
Some of the most notable benefits organizations cite are improved innovation and creativity, better employee retention and a greater ability to attract the most qualified employees. Who doesn’t want more of those things!
Below are some ideas of how to celebrate diversity through Black History Month.
Pick a Day to Party
What’s a celebration without a party?
Just like having a party for Halloween or employee birthdays, it’s a good excuse to break from the day-to-day routine and connect with each other on a more casual level. It gives everyone something to which they can look forward!
So break out the snacks and goodies, decorate the break room with pictures of and quotes by notable African Americans, put on some R&B music and you’ve got yourself a party!
Make it Last All Month
Rather than restricting the celebration of Black History Month to one day, why not stretch it out?
Have team members research traditionally African American foods, prepare (or buy) them and taste a new one every week. It’s a great way to both honor the traditions of the past and learn more about the culture.
Another idea is to make a team commitment to learn something about the history of African Americans by reading a book together, seeing a movie or individually researching and sharing what you learn with each other. Or put a fun spin on it by creating a trivia game out of facts about accomplishments of African Americans.
Honor it All Year
The founders of Black History Month started with petitioning for a one-week celebration in February, later it was expanded to a full month. Why not celebrate all year long?
By taking a longer time frame, you can make a more significant impact on promoting a culture of inclusion. Start by exchanging stories of African Americans who have touched your lives including friends, family, authors, musicians, etc. They don’t have to be famous.
The point of Black History Month is to give attention to the significant contribution to the United States that African Americans have made, which have historically been overlooked. The numerous individuals making an impact every day that may be overlooked are worthy of celebration, not just the handful of names we all recognize.
Another valuable conversation to have as a group is a discussion of injustices that you’ve witnessed in the more recent past. This can be a great springboard for brainstorming as a team about how to be more understanding of each other and honor diversity throughout the year.
As you look for other diversity celebrations, be sure to check out timeanddate.com. It has a long list of United Nations Holidays, many of which are focused on diversity. Also, the Anti-defamation League has an online calendar with many diverse observance days.
Looking Towards the Future
What’s important about minority group milestones and holidays is to celebrate and learn about each other’s backgrounds. It’s also to acknowledge injustices of the past and current, and strive to learn, as a society, from our mistakes and move forward in a more positive, inclusive way.
It’s More Fun When We Share!
There are endless ways to celebrate diversity in the workplace, these are just a few ideas. Please share in the comment section below your ideas about how to celebrate Black History Month. I’d love to hear what others are doing!
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