Marking Black History Month With Meaning

Black History Month (BHM) offers an opportunity for your organization to announce progress against any diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-related commitments made in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last summer. 

But employers should expect scrutiny from employees and customers— and in some cases, skepticism. 

Here are some best practices for guiding authentic commemorations and enlightening conversations during BHM this year:

  • DO: Be considerate and deliberate when making internal and external statements.
    DON’T: Present offensive displays, curricula or performances. 
  • DO: Prepare a strategic response plan to address potential questions and criticisms of programming or follow-through.
    DON’T: Ignore Black History Month altogether. 
  • DO: Engage communicators and internal influencers, especially leaders. Their absence will send a strong signal about how important these efforts truly are to an organization.
    DON’T: Exploit BHM for profit. 
  • DO: Engage the Black employee resource group (ERG) in creating BHM programming and soliciting feedback from Black employees – particularly vocal and engaged influencers. 
    DON’T: Coerce Black employees to lead programming efforts – or make them feel it’s solely their responsibility to educate the organization.