Noted

4 Ways Companies Can Celebrate Black History Month

Toby Egbuna
April 20, 2020

Black History Month is upon us! Across the country, people are taking this as an opportunity to reflect on the contributions that African-Americans have made and highlight upcoming Black leaders. For companies, BHM is a great time to create learning opportunities for employees that might not usually be exposed to the different pieces of Black culture.

Here are four ways that companies can celebrate Black History Month:

1. Bring in black speakers

One of the best parts of Black History Month is that it serves as a chance for employees to

openly ask questions and learn about the experiences of their co-workers. A great way to spark these conversations is to bring in a Black guest speaker. Choose a topic that you want to highlight — unconscious bias, why diversity matters, allyship, etc. — and have someone come in to run a workshop around that idea. Encourage employees to ask questions and work to make people feel that the session is a safe space.

Don’t have the budget to bring in speakers? Look internally! Schedule a panel where your own employees at different career levels discuss their experiences at work. Just make sure to have a moderator and a set of questions that the panel can answer.

2. Support local black businesses

Look around you! Schedule a tour at a black history museum, plan a happy hour at a

black-owned restaurant, or partner with a charity that benefits African-Americans. Recent studies show that Black-owned businesses often struggle to stay open due to a lack of accessible capital. Your company can help a local business by using their services or making a donation.

There are a couple ways to find Black-owned businesses if you’re having a hard time:

  • WeBuyBlack — an online collection of goods sold by Black businesses. Offerings range from clothing to hair and skin care to cleaning products.
  • WhereU Came From — a search engine for local Black-owned businesses. Consider this the Black Yelp.
  • EatOkra — a mobile phone app that helps you find Black-owned restaurants. It’s available in over 35 cities, including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Chicago.

3. Highlight internal success stories

Is there a manager on your team that’s been crushing it lately? Use Black History Month to spotlight her and the work she’s done. We know that representation is important, and successful representation is even more crucial. For more junior Black employees, seeing a senior employee that looks like them can be huge for morale.

Find an employee to spotlight, and ask her if she would be open to sharing her story and advice to people that are working to climb the ladder.

4. Find ways to portray your advocacy through your business

See if you can update your product offering or marketing campaigns to show your support African-Americans. Some influential companies are taking the lead on this:

  • Amazon’s Black employees created a skill for Alexa that teaches the device to speak Black History Month facts. Users can ask Alexa to tell Black History facts from the 1960’s or from the 19th century.
  • Spotify created a Black History Month playlist that includes songs and albums from past artists and upcoming stars.
  • Google launched its #TheMostSearched campaign that “celebrates the icons and moments that have been searched more than any others in the United States.”

Obviously, not every company has the budget to create an entirely new offering to celebrate Black History Month. However, there are small things that you can do with your marketing or branding to acknowledge your Black employees. Try highlighting Black employees on your company website’s homepage or doing a social media series on Black history facts.

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Black History is American history. Black History Month is a time to commemorate the work of Black people before us and look forward to the contributions to come. While companies should use BHM to connect with their Black employees, they should remember to celebrate their Black employees year-round, not just in February.

Toby Egbuna
Toby Egbuna is a Co-Founder and CEO of Chezie. He is also an aspiring movie buff, an Ed Sheeran stan, and a mediocre cook.

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