As Black History Month comes to an end, our hope is that the actions taken this month to celebrate Black Americans and Black history are incorporated into a broader Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy for organizations. In fact, given recent attacks on Black History and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in our eyes, it’s more important than ever that companies take actions and stay involved in social justice. This is a journey that isn’t accomplished in one month so keep reading for tips on what to do for the next 11 months.
There are many ways to celebrate Black Americans and Black culture while also dismantling internal and external systems and policies that create inequalities. Below are a few actions that we suggest year round.
Educate Employees About Black History and Anti-Black Racism
We often hear from people who want to be inclusive, create equity, fight against racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, etc., but they don’t know which actions to take. Your organization likely employs folks with the same challenge. Choosing to provide education is a good way to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to DEI. Provide guidance, resources, and expertise to ensure that your employees 1) build their awareness, and 2) identify actions they can personally and collectively implement after the workshops.
Create Safety and Community through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
According to research by McKinsey, the role of ERGs is expanding. ERGs can help to build inclusion for employees who identify as part of traditionally underrepresented groups, improve the attraction and retention of employees from these groups, and increase representation of diverse talent in line with the organization’s DEI strategy.
Fostering inclusion, which we define as the extent to which an organization’s systems and people promote a welcoming and fair environment for all employees. ERGs foster inclusion in a number of ways, including by helping employees feel that they belong and are part of a community, especially through connections that counter the feelings of being an “only” within an organization. Belonging to an ERG also helps employees feel that they can be authentic at work, and derive more meaning and purpose from the work that they do. Within the workplace, ERG systems and infrastructure strengthen acceptance, camaraderie, and fairness across groups and help members build allyship. ERGs also boost the visibility of underrepresented groups among larger groups in companies.
Read more here.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
For additional insight into the importance, check out this article highlighting the vast inequities that exist for Black owned businesses.
- BLK and Bold Coffee
- McBride Sisters Wine
- The Jungalow
- Black Girl Sunscreen
- The Lip Bar
- Mielle Organics
- Fenty Beauty
Volunteer With and Donate to Black Organizations
Companies can volunteer their time and resources with Black organizations in their communities. This can include volunteering at local community centers, schools, or nonprofits that serve Black communities. It’s important to partner with the organizations that understand the needs and priorities of the Black community to provide the most effective support.
Take a Strategic Approach to Creating a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Workplace
Companies can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace by intentionally evaluating the current organizational culture through a DEI lens and taking action to create needed change from a strategic perspective.
Begin with an evaluation of employee experiences and unwritten company practices. How inclusive is your culture REALLY? Do your practices align with your espoused values and commitment to DEI?
Here are a few warning signs that indicate a need for change:
- A tendency to leverage the same universities or recruitment sources which happen to be predominantly white even though the organization wants to attract a more diverse candidate pool
- Hiring Black employees who discover that they aren’t fully accepted so they code switch in order to “fit in”
- Different promotion practices for Black employees such as having to “prove” themselves first by taking on the duties of the higher level position while still being paid at their current lower level for a period of time with no real commitment to actually being promoted
- Lack of diversity the higher up you go within the organization
- Pay inequities exists that haven’t been rectified
- Turnover amongst your Black employees is higher when compared to non-Black employees
- Black employees are not participating in meetings as much as they used to or as much as others
- Downplaying comments or jokes that are offensive by insisting that some people are “too sensitive”
If you could use a hand implementing a strong Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy in your company, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll chat about how we can best help.
The Value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- What changes will you make so that you can better support someone else?
- Who can you influence to take the actions we suggested above (or other actions), if you do not have the positional power to make the changes yourself?
- What are you willing to take a stand for or speak out against?
Until next time,
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