Ways To Celebrate Black History Month at Work

Looking for ways to thoughtfully celebrate Black History Month at work? Read 5 ways to foster community & connection authentically.

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Black History Month is a yearly celebration and recognition of the achievements, contributions, and history of Black people in the United States. However, Black History Month goes beyond the important conversations and celebrations of Black people. Black History Month was created as a means for Black people to achieve equal rights, treatment, and opportunities. But just like the late great Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” So let’s start with the basics of how Black History Month came about. 

It started with the author, journalist, and American historian Carter G. Woodson, also known as the Father of Black History. In 1915, Carter G. Woodson formed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to make African American people’s history, culture, and life available globally. Onward to 1926, Negro History Week was born. In 1976, President Gerald Ford extended the week to a month, which has been observed across the U.S. ever since.

It doesn’t just stop there. Black History Month goes beyond the history, achievements, and contributions of Black people in the United States. It recognizes people across the diaspora and how our impact has shaped the world.

So, what does Black History Month have to do with the workplace? Let’s get into it!

The importance of Black History Month at work

Black History Month in the workplace is crucial because it’s American history. Honoring the identity of employees fosters connection and engagement and builds trust in the workplace. Black History Month is an opportunity for companies to reflect on the past and celebrate the achievements of individuals who have significantly progressed society. Black History Month also recognizes Black people’s contributions in all areas of people activity. At the very least, it indicates that you’re willing to show up for your employees, who are the reason behind your company’s success.

An organization that effectively implements inclusivity and belonging into its core values can strengthen its work environment. According to Great Places To Work, employees are three times more likely to enjoy work and five times more likely to stay when they feel like they belong. In addition, HR Analyst and Industry Leader Josh Bersin states that inclusive companies are 2.3 times more profitable per employee and 1.7 times more innovative.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your company equally represent, support, involve, and entrust all individuals? 
  • Does your company provide everyone with equal opportunity and accessibility in every area of the workplace?
  • Do your employees feel seen, heard, safe, and empowered to be their genuine selves at work?
  • Most of all, how have your practices positively impacted, retained, and contributed to the growth of Black employees in the workplace? 

 

Celebrating Black history is a way for employees to feel supported. In addition, it creates a community of understanding cultural differences, similarities, and experiences. Thus, increasing workplace connection and productivity. On the contrary, studies show that exclusivity has resulted in psychological disengagement, profit loss, and a high turnover rate. 

Commemorating Black History Month is integral to building a healthy workplace culture. In the end, everybody wins.

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How to celebrate & honor Black History Month in the office

It’s important to note that Black history is expansive. Instead of trying to fit everything into one month, it’s best to have specific goals to focus on during the month of February. Honoring the Black community is something companies shouldn’t only reserve for February and should be a common practice throughout the year. Here are some best ways to celebrate Black History Month.

Create space for team members to listen, learn and share

Encouraging conversation and stories centered around Black history is an excellent way to educate, inspire and honor employees during Black History Month. If your company has a BIPOC or an Employee Resource group, ask if they have Black History Month ideas or a specific agenda. This allows Black employees to have autonomy over narrating their own stories, traditions, and history. This is an excellent opportunity for leadership to support the planning committee with any necessary resources for activities.

It’s also worth mentioning that the BIPOC and other minority-led groups established in the workplace allow minority communities to connect and feel psychologically safe when sharing their experience. Be mindful of how you approach certain topics, and don’t assume specific team members want to be a part of the planning process or activities because of their race. On the flip side, having a diverse group of individuals in leadership roles and committees is critical. 

Here are some creative ways to promote conversation during Black History Month.

  • Ask team members to share their favorite quotes from Black leaders and trailblazers in your company Slack channel.
  • Curate a playlist and encourage team members to share their favorite songs written, produced, and performed by Black artists.
  • Share impactful visuals and stories from YouTube centered around Black History and Black innovators who are changing the world.
  • Engage your team by sharing influential podcasts to listen to throughout the month and beyond.
  • Create a listicle of Black literature and spotlight a specific book for employees to read each week.
  • Learn about local Black history in your neighborhood or community. 
  • Support Black employees and BIPOC groups by respecting their privacy, time, mental health, and boundaries. 
  • Take the time to review your benefits package around wellness and establish policies that encourage employees to unplug.
  • Dive into offering Black History Month virtual experiences.
  • Share insightful information about the Black History Month theme.
 

Plan a virtual cooking class to explore the diversity within Black culture

A virtual cooking class is a fantastic way to support Black chefs and restaurants in your area. It will encourage team members to get moving in a remote setting and learn about Black culture through different cuisine. Platforms like Adá Experiences celebrate Black food culture and offer various in-person and virtual food experiences hosted by dynamic chefs.

Here are a few Adá experiences to check out:

 

Amplify Black voices with workshops & panels that educate

Amplify Black voices by inviting artists, activists & leaders to host workshops and panel discussions. These events help employees hear diverse perspectives on critical issues, challenges, and topics that center the Black community.

Other ways to amplify Black voices include:

  • Invite employees to give anonymous feedback via a company survey on ways to improve workplace culture. 
  • Make it a common practice to reflect on current societal issues that affect Black employees.
  • Honor employees who spearhead innovative projects, evolve the community and contribute to company success. 
  • Revisit your DEI strategy to pinpoint areas where you missed the mark. Hiring an expert can also help build a clear plan that better supports employees and the company’s mission.

 

Locate local Black-owned businesses to support

There are many ways to support local and non-local Black-owned businesses at your company. 

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Create employee wellness or care packages with products from Black-owned businesses. 
  • Treat your team members to lunch with gift cards from black-owned restaurants.
  • Research Black-owned businesses in your area and find creative ways to bring their offerings into the fold during Black History Month and beyond.
  • Donate to organizations and collaborate by volunteering at non-profits important to the Black community.
  • Support Black employees who are artists and have businesses or passion projects by motivating them to share a link to their website or social media.
  • Normalize establishing company goals that support Black causes, initiatives, and philanthropy.
  • Hire black talent for available roles, mentorship, and internships from local colleges and high schools.
  • Partner with Black-owned career-focused organizations by listing open positions on their site. Organizations like Hue, Color Vision, and The Creative Collective NYC are great places to start.
  • Invest in your employees by paying their dues. Many Black professional groups are associated with different industries, such as the National Association of Black Accountants, Blacks in Technology, ColorComm, and more.

Plan a virtual watch party (with food!)

A movie and food are always fun after a busy week. Inspire your team members by watching documentaries, speeches, and interviews with Black figures. You can also diversify your virtual watch list with stories and movies created, written, and produced by Black people. Additionally, the ASALH has a Black History Month Virtual Festival and other events throughout the month of February that employees can explore.

There are many meaningful ways to celebrate Black History Month. While education and learning about Black identity and history is an integral part of Black History Month, it’s also important to be mindful of Black people’s experiences. Diversify your activities, so Black team members can celebrate themselves and are not constantly reminded about their plight.

More about Adá Experiences

Everyone needs food. It’s a way to connect with others, explore cultures, and travel without boarding a plane.  

But like many other industries, Black stories and history are often ignored in the food world. Adá Experiences uplifts Black chefs and culinary experts and the traditions that come with Black food culture. 

Our curated food experiences help companies actively celebrate employee diversity and authentically incorporate Black identity into their organization’s culture.

Planning a team-building event?

Explore our virtual and in-person cooking classes, mixology experiences and more — all hosted by Black chefs and culinary creators.