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Black History Month is the perfect time to put Black voices front and center at your company.But in February that’s all Time for your company to focus on black employees.
The voice, contribution and needs of Black employees should be an ongoing effort. Because when they feel seen, heard, and valued, the overall corporate culture improves.
Here are some practical, tangible ways to raise the voice of Black employees in your company and continue to deepen your company’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. .
Realize that all black people are not monolithic
People get themselves into trouble when they start believing that all black people are the same. It’s very simple and clear. why? Because every black person has a different experience. Whether you come from the African continent, Europe or America, you experience oppression, culture, family, love, language and social dynamics in different ways.
We are from South Carolina or California and have learned to adapt to the state culture in different ways. Some of us have different beliefs about religion, family and sexuality. Some of us are Christians and some are atheists. Additionally, many of us have complex and intersecting identities, such as queer, black, and disabled.
One way your company can give Black employees more support is by understanding that we are not monolithic and have different and often overlapping identities. Encourage staff and management to personally interact with each Black colleague to get to know their unique personalities, beliefs, needs and values.
Related: How should I talk to employees about racism?
Bringing Historic Black Holidays Mainstream
We are not monolithic, but black employees at your company likely share similar historical struggles such as slavery, colonization, and forced displacement. You may have shared a holiday that helped you recognize the past.
One of the important holidays in the black community is Juneteenth. A day to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the 1800s. Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th each year and is considered an important holiday in many black communities.
Some Black employees may want to spend time away from work and instead dedicate Juneteenth to spending time with friends, family and community. , consider making it your company’s variable paid leave.
Of course, don’t forget Kwanzaa. In case you didn’t know, Kwanzaa is a black holiday started in his 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University. The holiday was created to unite black Americans after the traumatic events of the 1965 Watts riots.
Consider this: When sending holiday emails company-wide wishing employees a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, include “Happy Kwanzaa” where relevant. Including Kwanzaa in your company’s communications will thank Black employees and the entire Black community as they celebrate the holiday.
Create a black voices empowerment series
How responsive is your management team to the needs of Black employees? One way to get a sense of how Black employees feel in the workplace is to share candid feedback with executives. to provide a clear and directly accessible space for
This space can be called the Black Empowerment Series. This experience creates a safe space where Black professionals can focus their needs in a semi-private environment.
These are spaces that help HR and management listen and learn about the deep-rooted needs of Black employees. These spaces may provide answers to questions your team wants to know, such as:
- What do black employees value in the company?
- What is the life experience of black employees in the company?
- How can companies help Black employees feel more seen, heard, and valued?
I have seen these series succeed at several companies I have worked with. It surfaced and was able to get the attention of HR and leadership.
However, some employees may find the idea silly. They may think that spaces like this are exclusive and shouldn’t exist in the company. We encourage you to think in all possible ways that your safety and well-being may be compromised.
Simple gatherings like this can bring new ideas and seeds to a company’s DEI efforts, making clear and actionable changes that can significantly improve the company’s culture in the long run.
Related: How to use employee resource groups to create meaningful impact in the workplace
Offer a racial equality challenge
One sobering truth about being a minority in the workplace is that minority groups often have to do the hard work of educating their peers and leadership team about the DEI. Black employees in particular can feel like they’re talking into a void or that their coworkers aren’t doing the self-education work they need to make a lasting difference in their company. And the racial equality challenge can help improve that.
Racial equality challenges provide a platform to initiate self-education among company employees. Nothing is standard. Racial equality challenges can vary from company to company. What appears to be a series of workshops, his week-long purposeful conversations centered around various DEI topics, and company reading assignments on books related to racial equality. in some cases.
Whatever challenge your company wants to host, the key is to make sure the heavy lifting of education comes from the participants, not just the black employees in the room.
This challenge encourages each employee to explore the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion and understand how it manifests itself in their own personal and professional lives.
Company change starts from within. As more employees begin to explore the topic of race and inequality, it will ease the burden of having to constantly educate their colleagues on topics that are sensitive and sometimes difficult for Black employees to deal with.
Related: 8 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read About Deconstructing Racism in Business
Launch an exercise to see your company’s pay gap, leadership composition, and industry trends
It’s no surprise that black American employees aren’t on the leadership tables at most major companies.Most businesses in the state are still primarily white and male leadershipAnalyzing how and why Black employees fail to reach leadership positions is an important exercise.
This is a particularly important task for the leadership team to undertake, as it can capture how unintentional and hidden biases are entrenched at high levels in the workplace.
I request your leadership team to also analyze the company’s pay inequality. Compare two of her employees with similar titles, backgrounds, and contributions, but different races, and analyze the wage differences.
Leadership can also take a look around who makes up managers, executives, and other leadership roles in the company. Then compare it to the industry as a whole.
But let me be clear, these exercises are not designed to put Black people in leadership positions and pay them more to stand on the “right side” of justice. , is designed to assess the internal and implicit biases that occur in the workplace and begin to examine their root causes. , can create a new focus for advancing DEI for Black employees in the workplace.
Black History Month is almost over, but it doesn’t have to be
Expanding our efforts, work and initiatives to support Black employees throughout the year is in full control of the company. At work, February could pass as he continues to make meaningful efforts to promote DEI. Small changes, such as adding historic Black His Holidays to a company’s paid vacation roster, can be made within a calendar year. Digging deeper into the company’s pay gap and hosting racial equality challenges can take longer. Either way, Black employees will see and feel the difference, so the effort is worth the effort. DEI is a company-wide initiative, and with everyone’s participation, Black employees will see Black History Month and beyond. You can feel loved, supported and recognized.