Black History Month is an annual observation designed to recognise the contributions and achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage. It serves as an opportunity for HR departments and business leaders to shine a light on diversity practices and inclusivity of people culture.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is celebrated during the month of October in the United Kingdom and February in the USA (with other countries choosing to mark the event in a month that is significant to them). Its origins began in the USA in 1926 with Carter G. Woodson who initiated the first “Negro History Week” in February of that year. Since then, the day has grown in significance and has been observed by US presidents every year since 1976. In the HR world, it has become a key event to recognise and celebrate employees’ contributions.
Within a workplace, it’s important to celebrate this month as an opportunity to strengthen ties in internal communities and teach cultural acceptance. Recognising and celebrating employees’ racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can be effective in creating a culture where all team members feel safe and engaged.
With the current hybrid working model, businesses may be sceptical about how to organise events that cater to all employees, but in actual fact, hybrid events can be advantageous. If you’re looking for ideas on how to support or celebrate this month, here’s some inspiration:
Consider areas of growth
Before you look at planning events, it’s important to take a look at your own team and evaluate how diverse your team is. If you come to the conclusion that it’s not, consider reviewing your recruiting and onboarding process. A survey from Glassdoor revealed that 57% of respondents believe their employers could be doing more to increase diversity and inclusion. This is why taking the time to celebrate events like Black History Month is so important.
Black History Month Speaker Series
With in-person seating for office workers and live streaming for those working remotely, you could host a speaker series. Bring in influential speakers to teach employees about race relations, civil rights and other topics affecting black identity. Panel discussions are fun to watch with conversation bouncing between participants, and panelists sharing their personal views and stories. You could also host events that highlight black culture through music and cuisine to help get employees more involved and engaged.
Throughout the month of October, there’s countless volunteering events to give back to the community. Whether volunteering virtually or locally, it’s an easy way to support social justice, bond as a team and inspire your colleagues. As a company, you can bring a lot of hands to a project and form corporate partnerships with charities. Some wider examples include Windrush Foundation and 100 Great Black Britons, who are both running a plethora of events throughout October for people to get involved with. From simply raising awareness to helping out those in need, to donating, charities do incredibly important work in October and all year round.
Workshops & Screenings
The best way to tackle any workplace discrimination is through education. Workshops are a great way to provide a framework for committing to anti-racism, providing step-by-step strategies. Another engaging idea is hosting a movie night to showcase some films that represent everything Black History Month is about. Suggestions include Moonlight, The Colour Purple, Get Out and more.
Get in touch today, if you’d like Virgin Incentives to help with your employee engagement and motivation programmes. We help both UK and U.S. businesses create a thriving employee culture, with engagement, loyalty, and performance at the heart of their organisation