Black History Month is a prominent month in the calendar every single year. With people celebrating their family and friends on social media, and businesses praising their black employees, there’s an outpour of support during October. However, it’s a sad truth that, for many of the above, that’s where it begins and ends. 

Celebrating the lives of black people is about much more than a social media post or sending out a company-wide email. Cynthia Davis, the co-founder of Diversifying.io, a recruitment platform that only advertises vacancies of diverse and inclusive employers, explains how these 31 days of the year shouldn’t just be part of a tick-box exercise. 

“Just like Pride month, Black History Month has become a chance for companies to capitalise on showing their support,” said Cynthia. “Then, once the month is over, these values and beliefs rarely continue. I think it’s important for businesses to remember that both current and future employees notice whether or not they put their money where their mouth is.” 

To really show support, there are several different ways for employers to implement an inclusive workplace. Here, Cynthia shares her top 5 ways to do just that.

  • Have resources ready for employees to use. By having resources for other employees to refer to, this removes the burden of black employees to educate those around them. You can find interesting books, websites and stories that help to inform those about the prominence of the month and why it’s still important today in 2021. 

One of the most important aspects to all of this is to get fully behind the celebrations. Put a budget to your ideas and make it an integral part of your typical workday. Diversity and inclusion is not a HR strategy, it’s a business strategy – just like you put a budget behind your marketing or recruitment, promoting inclusivity should be treated the same.

  • Create a safe place. This doesn’t just mean by distributing a supportive email. A space needs to physically be created to ensure that black employees feel supported and have an opportunity to raise any concerns or issues. A culture needs to be created where these can be raised without a fear of being judged or discriminated against. 
  • Implement dedicated time. To extend the point above, a schedule should be introduced to allow for time to have these points raised and discussed. These dedicated sessions allow for everyone to be heard – their voices and their lived experiences are valid, valued and understood. 
  • Bring in guest speakers. When you bring in guest speakers to speak with your employees, specifically accomplished minorities, you are giving them a chance to share their unique insights and experiences with your organisation. By enabling your black employees to speak with and learn from similar professionals, it can inspire them to seek out leadership opportunities for themselves.

Remember, always pay your external speakers for their time and expertise. You should never expect them to educate the organisation for free. 

  • Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. People are afraid to ask questions in case they say something offensive, or slightly wrong. Instead of shying away from it, encourage employees to talk about their experiences to make sure that there is an understanding of everyone’s situation. If you don’t ask, then there’s no way you can learn to phrase something correctly and will always remain silent to avoid embarrassment or causing offense.

For more information around diversity in the workplace, visit www.diversifying.io 

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.