celebratory hands
February 14, 2024

How to celebrate Black History Month at work: 9 impactful ways

Discover nine meaningful ways to honor Black History Month in your workplace. From exploring local Black history museums to supporting Black-owned food delivery companies and amplifying Black voices on social media, these ideas will foster inclusivity and appreciation throughout the month.

Team Tiimo

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • 1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone
  • 2. Explore your local Black History Museum
  • 3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company
  • 4. Amplify Black voices
  • 5. Manage unconscious bias at work
  • 6. Invite guest speakers
  • 7. Conduct educational workshops
  • 8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations
  • 9. Create a resource hub
  • Final thoughts and frequent questions


Introduction

Black History Month is an annual observance that provides an opportunity for reflection, education, and celebration of the contributions and achievements of African Americans. Recognizing this important month at work not only honors this rich history but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect. Here are nine impactful ideas to celebrate Black History Month at your workplace:

1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone

Kicking off Black History Month with an all-hands meeting is a powerful way to bring everyone together and underscore the importance of the celebration. This initial gathering is not just a meeting; it's an opportunity to unite the team under a common understanding and appreciation for the contributions and struggles of African Americans throughout history. 

Here's how to make the most of this kickoff meeting:

Outline the agenda

Start by clearly outlining what Black History Month means and why it is observed. This can include a brief history of the month itself, its origins, and its significance in today’s social climate. This foundational understanding helps to contextualize the month’s activities and emphasizes why it's important to participate and learn.

Express commitment to diversity and inclusion

The kickoff meeting is the perfect moment for company leaders to express their unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. This can be done by highlighting past initiatives, sharing future plans, and discussing the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. It's crucial that employees see this commitment not just in words but in actions and policies that reflect the company's values.

Highlight planned events

Provide a detailed overview of the events and activities planned for Black History Month. This could include guest speakers, educational workshops, museum visits, or film screenings. Encouraging employees to participate in these events can be more effective if you explain the purpose and expected outcomes of each activity. Knowing what to expect can increase interest and engagement.

Encourage participation and dialogue

Emphasize that participation is key to making the most of Black History Month. Encourage employees to not only attend events but to engage actively—ask questions, share thoughts, and participate in discussions. Promote an open dialogue, stressing that this is a safe space for learning and sharing, even about potentially difficult topics related to race and history.

Highlight resources for learning

Acknowledge that learning and growth extend beyond organized events. Share resources available to employees who wish to further their understanding of Black History and current social issues. This could include books, articles, podcasts, and videos. Encouraging self-driven learning complements the structured activities and allows individuals to explore topics that personally interest them.

Set a respectful and celebratory tone

The tone of the meeting should balance respect for the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans with a celebration of their achievements and contributions. Recognizing the depth and complexity of Black history helps foster a genuine appreciation and moves beyond a superficial acknowledgment of the month.

Encourage feedback and suggestions

Invite employees to share their ideas for celebrating Black History Month and fostering a more inclusive workplace year-round. This not only makes the planning process more democratic but also helps employees feel valued and heard. It's a way to gather fresh ideas and ensure that the celebration evolves to reflect the diverse perspectives within your team.

Closing remarks

Conclude the meeting with a clear message of unity and collective growth. Reiterate the importance of everyone’s participation and the role it plays in building a more inclusive and understanding workplace. Encourage employees to reflect on what they learn throughout the month and to carry these insights forward into their daily lives and interactions.

2. Explore your local Black History museum

Exploring your local Black History Museum as part of celebrating Black History Month at work is a profoundly educational and immersive experience. It offers employees a tangible connection to the narratives, struggles, and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Here's how to maximize the impact of this activity:

Planning the visit

1. Research and select a museum: Start by identifying local museums that focus on Black history or have significant exhibits on African American culture, history, and art. Consider the museum’s offerings, such as guided tours, interactive exhibits, and educational programs, to ensure a comprehensive and engaging experience. 

2. Coordinate with the museum: Reach out to the museum to discuss arranging a private tour for your company. Museums often have educational departments that can tailor tours to your group's size, interests, and the time you have available. Ask about special exhibits or programs that might coincide with your visit.

3. Schedule and communicate: Choose a date and time that minimizes disruption to work while maximizing attendance. Communicate the details well in advance, including the agenda, transportation arrangements, and any preparation required from employees. Consider making attendance optional but encouraged, showing respect for individual schedules and commitments.

Enhancing the experience

1. Guided tours: Opt for a guided tour if available. Guides can provide in-depth knowledge, share poignant stories, and answer questions, enriching the learning experience. Tailor the tour to focus on aspects of Black history that align with your company's industry, community, or interests to make the experience more relevant and impactful.

2. Interactive and immersive experiences: Many museums offer interactive exhibits, such as virtual reality experiences, audio tours, and hands-on activities. These can make the visit more engaging and memorable, helping employees better understand and empathize with the historical contexts and personal stories presented.

3. Pre-visit materials: If possible, provide employees with articles, videos, or podcasts related to the museum's exhibits or themes in advance. This can help frame the visit, sparking curiosity and preparing participants for a more meaningful engagement with the museum content.

Virtual tour alternatives

If an in-person visit isn’t feasible, many museums offer virtual tours or online collections. Here's how to organize a virtual museum visit:

1. Select a virtual tour: Choose a museum that offers comprehensive virtual tours and has robust online resources. Ensure the content is engaging and accessible for all employees, regardless of their familiarity with Black history.

2. Organize a group viewing: Schedule a time for employees to experience the virtual tour together, either in a common space at work or via a video conferencing platform. This can help recreate the sense of a shared experience and facilitate discussion.

3. Discussion and reflection: After the tour, whether in-person or virtual, organize a group discussion to reflect on the experience. Encourage employees to share what they learned, how it impacted them, and any thoughts or questions the visit provoked. This can deepen the educational impact and foster a sense of community and shared understanding.

Follow-up

1. Feedback and insights: Gather feedback on the museum visit to understand its impact and how future outings might be improved. Ask employees how the experience has influenced their understanding of Black history and culture.

2. Continued learning: Encourage employees to continue exploring Black history beyond the museum visit. Share resources for further learning and consider organizing more cultural outings throughout the year.

By organizing a visit to a local Black History Museum, companies can provide employees with a powerful lens through which to view the past, understand the present, and inspire a more inclusive future. This experience not only educates but also cultivates empathy and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of experiences that shape our world.

3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company

Supporting a Black-owned food delivery company to celebrate Black History Month at work is a unique and impactful way to engage employees while contributing positively to the local Black economy. Culinary experiences can serve as a delicious gateway to cultural education and appreciation. Here's how to make this initiative both enjoyable and enlightening:

Identifying and selecting a business

1. Research local Black-owned food businesses: Start by compiling a list of Black-owned food delivery services and restaurants in your area. Utilize online directories, social media, and local food blogs focused on promoting Black-owned businesses.

2. Consider menu diversity: Choose a business that offers a menu reflecting the rich culinary traditions of the African diaspora. This could range from traditional African dishes, Caribbean flavors, to soul food, depending on what's available in your area.

3. Verify delivery capabilities: Ensure the selected business can accommodate your delivery needs, considering the size of your order and the location of your office. It might be beneficial to discuss any specific arrangements directly with the business owner to ensure a smooth experience.

Planning the meal

1. Menu selection: Collaborate with the chosen business to select a menu that offers a variety of dishes. This allows employees to explore different flavors and dishes, catering to various dietary preferences and restrictions.

2. Educational component: Request information about the dishes you’re ordering — their origins, cultural significance, and any stories behind them. This information can be shared with employees to turn the meal into an educational experience, deepening their appreciation for the food and the cultures it represents.

3. Logistics: Plan the logistics of the meal, considering the best time to schedule the delivery to minimize work disruption and ensure everyone can participate. Set up a designated area for food distribution, keeping in mind the need for a convenient and comfortable space where employees can enjoy their meal.

Enhancing the experience

1. Share the story: Before the meal, share the story and background of the food delivery company and the cuisine being served. This could be in the form of a brief presentation, printed materials placed around the dining area, or even a short video from the business owner explaining their culinary approach and the history behind their dishes.

2. Engage and discuss: Encourage employees to discuss their thoughts on the meal and any new insights they gained from the experience. This could be facilitated through discussion prompts placed on tables, or by organizing a post-meal discussion forum.

3. Feedback and support: Gather feedback from employees on the experience and consider making support for Black-owned businesses a regular part of your company culture. This could involve rotating different businesses for future events or creating a directory of local Black-owned businesses for employees to explore personally.

After the meal

1. Social media shoutout: With the business owner’s permission, share your company’s experience supporting their business on your social media channels. Highlight the dishes you enjoyed and the story of the business, tagging them to increase their visibility.

2. Continued engagement: Encourage employees to continue supporting Black-owned food businesses personally. Sharing a list of businesses and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations can have a lasting impact on these businesses’ success.

3. Reflect on impact: Reflect on the broader impact of this initiative on both your workplace culture and the local black economy. Consider integrating this practice into your company’s regular operations, not just during Black History Month but as an ongoing effort to support diversity and inclusion.

4. Amplify Black voices

Amplifying Black voices (see changemakers Delvene and Paff) through your company's social media platforms is a powerful way to celebrate Black History Month and contribute to the broader conversation on diversity and inclusion. This initiative goes beyond mere acknowledgment, actively promoting the work, insights, and achievements of Black individuals and businesses. Here’s how to approach this effectively in a concise manner:

Curate meaningful content

1. Identify content creators: Seek out content by Black artists, writers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs. Focus on those whose work or message aligns with your company's values or industry. 

2. Diverse formats: Share a variety of content types, such as articles that provide historical insights, podcasts that delve into contemporary issues, videos that showcase artistic expressions, and posts that highlight achievements.

Highlight Black-owned businesses

1. Business profiles: Feature profiles or stories of Black-owned businesses, especially those in your local community or within your industry. This can help shine a light on their contributions and encourage support from your audience.

2. Collaborations: Consider collaborations or partnerships with Black-owned businesses for social media takeovers, joint events, or content series. This not only amplifies their voices but also builds meaningful connections.

Engage with the content

1. Encourage interaction: Engage your audience by asking questions, encouraging them to share their thoughts, and prompting them to explore these voices and stories further. 

2. Highlight contributions: Make it a point to highlight the contributions of African Americans in your industry, showcasing how their innovations, leadership, and creativity have shaped the field.

Continuous support

1. Beyond Black History Month: While amplifying Black voices is especially important during Black History Month, strive to maintain this level of support and visibility throughout the year. Integrating this practice into your regular content calendar demonstrates a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.

2. Feedback and learning: Be open to feedback from your audience and from the creators or businesses you feature. This can be a learning opportunity for your company to better understand how to support and engage with Black communities effectively.

Amplifying Black voices on social media is an actionable and impactful way to honor Black History Month while fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect. By thoughtfully selecting and sharing content, your company can play an essential role in celebrating black achievements and supporting a more equitable society.

5. Manage unconscious bias at work

To practically manage unconscious bias at work during Black History Month and beyond, organizations can adopt a hands-on approach that translates awareness into action. Here are some actions you can take to to make unconscious bias management a tangible part of your workplace culture:

Launch interactive bias training workshops

Initiate workshops that are designed to be highly interactive, focusing on real-life scenarios that employees might encounter in their daily work lives. Use role-playing games and simulations to illustrate how unconscious bias affects decision-making and interpersonal relationships. This method helps employees recognize and confront their biases in a safe, educational setting.

Implement bias awareness tools

Introduce tools and resources, such as bias-checklists or decision-making flowcharts, that employees can use to self-check for biases before making key decisions, especially in hiring, promotions, and project assignments. These tools serve as practical reminders to pause and reflect on the fairness and inclusivity of their actions.

Encourage personal reflection journals

Promote the use of personal reflection journals where employees can note down instances where they recognized their own biases and how they addressed them. Encouraging personal accountability helps in internalizing the lessons learned during bias training workshops.

Facilitate discussion circles

Organize regular discussion circles where employees can share experiences and insights related to unconscious bias in a non-judgmental space. These discussions can be anchored around themes from Black History Month, allowing employees to connect historical knowledge with contemporary workplace scenarios.

Utilize Black History Month as a learning backdrop

During Black History Month, specifically tailor some of your unconscious bias training to include historical and cultural contexts that highlight the achievements and challenges of African Americans. This can include guest speakers, documentaries, or curated reading lists that provide depth to the understanding of biases.

Promote peer learning

Pair employees from different backgrounds for a peer learning program. Encouraging them to share their personal experiences and cultural backgrounds with each other can dismantle stereotypes and reduce unconscious biases through direct, personal connections.

Monitor and measure progress

Set up mechanisms to regularly assess the impact of these initiatives on workplace culture and employee behavior. Surveys, feedback forms, and discussion outcomes can provide valuable insights into how effectively bias is being managed and where further attention is needed.

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6. Invite guest speakers

Inviting guest speakers to share their experiences and knowledge is a powerful way to honor Black History Month in the workplace. This initiative can bring fresh perspectives, inspire employees, and foster a culture of learning and inclusivity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the most of this opportunity:

Identifying and inviting speakers

1. Research potential speakers: Look for experts, leaders, and influencers within the Black community who can speak on relevant topics. This could include local historians who specialize in African American history, activists working on current social justice issues, or professionals who have made significant contributions to their fields.

2. Select diverse topics: Choose speakers who can cover a range of topics to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the Black experience. Topics could range from historical events and figures to contemporary issues facing the Black community, as well as success stories and contributions of Black individuals in various sectors.

3. Extend invitations: Reach out to potential speakers with a clear and respectful invitation, outlining why you believe their contribution would be valuable and how it fits into your Black History Month programming. Be sure to discuss logistics, including format (in-person or virtual), date, time, audience, and any honorarium or speaker fees.

Preparing for the event

1. Promote the event: Use internal channels to inform employees about the guest speaker event. Highlight the speaker’s background and the topics they will cover to generate interest and encourage attendance. 

2. Technical setup: Ensure all technical aspects are handled, whether the event is in-person or virtual. This includes audio-visual equipment for presentations and ensuring a stable internet connection for virtual talks.

3. Facilitate Engagement: Plan for a Q&A session after the presentation to encourage engagement. Consider collecting questions in advance or having a moderator to facilitate the discussion.

During the event

1. Provide a warm welcome: Introduce the speaker with a brief overview of their achievements and the significance of their work. This sets a respectful tone and frames the conversation.

2. Foster an inclusive environment: Encourage an atmosphere of respect and openness, reminding attendees of the importance of listening and learning from the speaker’s experiences and insights.

3. Document the event: Consider recording the event (with the speaker’s permission) so it can be available for employees who are unable to attend. This also allows for revisiting the insights shared during the event.

Post-event actions

1. Express gratitude: Send a thank-you note to the speaker, expressing appreciation for their contribution and the impact of their talk on your team.

2. Gather feedback: Collect feedback from employees on the event to gauge its impact and gather suggestions for future speakers or topics. This helps in tailoring future events to employee interests and needs.

3. Reflect and act: Encourage team leaders and employees to reflect on the insights gained from the speaker and discuss how these can be translated into actionable steps towards more inclusive workplace practices.

7. Conduct educational workshops

This Black History Month, why not elevate your workplace's engagement and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the powerful tool of educational workshops? These sessions are more than just meetings; they are bridges to deeper comprehension and appreciation of Black history and culture, fostering a more inclusive work environment. Here's a fresh take on organizing workshops that can inspire and educate your team.

Crafting a curriculum that matters

Start with the why: Before you dive into planning, anchor your workshops in the "why." Remind your team of the importance of these sessions — not just as a nod to Black History Month but as a step towards building a truly inclusive workplace where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Choose topics that resonate: From the rich tapestry of African American music and literature to critical issues like unconscious bias and systemic inequalities, select topics that will resonate most with your team. Consider conducting a pre-workshop survey to gauge interests and needs, ensuring the content is both relevant and engaging.

Making workshops interactive and impactful

Invite dynamic speakers: Partner with dynamic speakers who can bring these topics to life. Look for individuals who are not only knowledgeable but also passionate about their subject matter — be they scholars, activists, or artists. Their energy can turn a standard workshop into an unforgettable experience.

Incorporate hands-on activities: Transform passive learning into active engagement with hands-on activities. For workshops on African American music, consider a listening session followed by a discussion on its historical context and influence. For literature, host a read-aloud or a creative writing session inspired by African American authors.

Foster open dialogues: Create a safe space for open dialogue, encouraging participants to share their thoughts, questions, and experiences. These conversations can be the most impactful part of a workshop, allowing for personal growth and collective insight.

Enhancing the workshop experience

Utilize multimedia resources: Enrich your workshops with multimedia resources. Videos, podcasts, and interactive websites can provide diverse perspectives and deepen the learning experience, making complex topics more accessible and engaging.

Provide take-home materials: Offer participants take-home materials or resources for further exploration. This could include reading lists, links to documentaries, or guides to local cultural sites, encouraging ongoing learning beyond the workshop.

Measure impact and iterate: After the workshop, gather feedback to understand its impact and how future sessions can be improved. This feedback loop is crucial for refining your approach and ensuring the workshops remain meaningful and effective.

Beyond Black History Month

While these workshops are a fantastic way to honor Black History Month, their true value lies in their ability to effect lasting change. By integrating these educational experiences into your company's regular programming, you can continue to nurture an environment of understanding, respect, and inclusion all year round.

8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations

This Black History Month, take a step beyond traditional celebrations and engage your team in volunteering for organizations that champion the Black community. It’s a moment to transform goodwill into action, fostering a spirit of giving back that resonates with every team member. Here’s a revitalized approach to making volunteering a cornerstone of your Black History Month observance.

Identifying meaningful opportunities

Connect with purpose: Begin with a clear purpose in mind. Why is volunteering important for your team? Aligning your volunteering efforts with your company's values not only amplifies the impact but also ensures sustained engagement from your team.

Discover organizations making a difference: Seek out black-led nonprofits, community groups, and initiatives that are making tangible differences in areas such as education, social justice, health care, and economic empowerment. Highlighting these organizations’ missions and achievements can inspire your team and provide a clear picture of the impact their volunteering can have.

Crafting a volunteering program that inspires

Diverse volunteering options: Recognize the varied interests and abilities within your team by offering a range of volunteering opportunities. From mentorship programs that support young Black professionals to hands-on community service projects, diversity in volunteering ensures everyone can participate in a way that feels meaningful to them.

Leverage company skills: Identify opportunities for your company to offer its services pro bono. Whether it's marketing support for a local nonprofit, legal advice, or tech assistance, applying your team's professional skills can provide invaluable support to organizations in need.

Make It a team effort: Foster a sense of community and shared purpose by organizing group volunteering sessions. Team-based activities not only increase the impact but also build team cohesion and morale.

Enhancing the volunteering experience

Pre-volunteering preparation: Host a preparation session to discuss the importance of the work your team will be doing. Understanding the context and significance of their efforts can deepen the volunteering experience for your employees.

Reflect and share: After volunteering, create spaces for team members to reflect on their experiences and share insights gained. This could be through a debrief meeting, a company blog post, or social media highlights. Sharing these stories can inspire others and showcase the tangible impact of your team's efforts.

Sustain the momentum: Encourage ongoing support of Black-led organizations beyond Black History Month. Establishing long-term partnerships can lead to continued volunteer opportunities, making service a part of your company’s ethos rather than a one-time event.

Fostering long-term engagement

Incorporating volunteering into your Black History Month celebration is just the beginning. It’s about building a foundation for continuous action and support that extends far beyond a single month. By choosing to volunteer, your team contributes to meaningful change, supports vital community work, and learns through the act of service.

This Black History Month, let volunteering be the catalyst for a deeper commitment to supporting the Black community, fostering a culture of service and social responsibility within your workplace. It's an opportunity to not just talk about change, but to be an active part of it. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make a difference together.

9. Create a resource hub

In an era where knowledge is power, what better way to celebrate Black History Month than by creating a dynamic Resource Hub dedicated to Black history and culture? This initiative is more than just a compilation of resources; it's a living, breathing repository that invites exploration, contribution, and continuous learning. Here’s how to create a Resource Hub that not only educates but also engages and empowers your team.

Laying the foundation for your resource hub

Start with why: Clarify the purpose of your Resource Hub. Is it to educate, to inspire, to provoke thought, or all of the above? Understanding the "why" will guide your selections and how you present the resources to your team.

Curate with care: Begin by gathering a diverse array of materials that cover a broad spectrum of topics within Black history and culture. From the pillars of historical literature to the latest podcasts discussing contemporary issues, your Resource Hub should offer a wide range of perspectives and voices. 

Make It accessible: Ensure that your Resource Hub is easily accessible to all employees. Whether it's a dedicated section on your company's intranet, a shared cloud folder, or a specially created website, the key is to make accessing the resources as straightforward as possible.

Engaging your team with the resource hub

Encourage exploration: Invite your employees to dive into the Resource Hub with an open mind and heart. Encourage them to start with topics they’re curious about and to branch out into unfamiliar territory as they become more comfortable.

Foster contribution: Make your Resource Hub a collaborative project. Encourage employees to contribute resources they’ve found insightful, impactful, or inspiring. This not only enriches the Hub but also fosters a sense of ownership and community among your team.

Highlight featured resources: Regularly feature specific resources, such as a "Book of the Month" or "Podcast of the Week," to guide employees towards particularly impactful content. This can help direct attention to resources that might otherwise be overlooked.

Making the most of the resource hub

Host discussion groups: Use the Resource Hub as a springboard for discussion groups or lunch-and-learns. Selecting a particular article, podcast episode, or book section as a discussion prompt can provide structure and stimulate engaging conversations.

Track engagement and feedback: Monitor how your team interacts with the Resource Hub and solicit feedback on how it can be improved. Understanding what resources resonate with your employees can help you tailor the Hub to better meet their needs and interests.

Keep it growing: The beauty of a Resource Hub is that it’s never "finished." Continually update the Hub with new materials, ensuring it remains a relevant and valuable tool for education and engagement.

Fostering lasting cultural engagement

While your resource hub may launch as part of Black History Month, its true value lies in its longevity and ability to facilitate ongoing education and dialogue. By committing to regularly update and promote the Hub, you ensure that the lessons of Black History Month extend throughout the year, weaving a deeper understanding and appreciation of Black history and culture into the fabric of your workplace.

Creating a resource hub is a testament to your company’s commitment to not just celebrating diversity but actively engaging with it. It’s an invitation to your team to learn, reflect, and grow—a journey that, while sparked by Black History Month, continues to enrich and inform far beyond February.

Final thoughts and frequent questions

Celebrating Black History Month at work is about more than just recognition; it’s an opportunity to educate, reflect, and grow as a community. By implementing these nine ideas, companies can create a more inclusive and respectful workplace culture. Remember, the celebration of Black history and culture should extend beyond February, integrating into your company’s practices year-round.

Encouraging ongoing education and dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion benefits everyone by fostering a more inclusive and understanding workplace environment. Let this Black History Month be a starting point for continuous growth and learning within your organization.


Frequent question: how did february get to be Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson opted for February due to tradition and a desire for reform. It is often cited that he chose this month to encompass the birthdays of two significant figures in African American history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, born on the 12th and 14th, respectively, thus shaping the narrative of Black History Month.

Frequent question: when did Black History Month start?

Black educators and members of Black United Students at Kent State University initially suggested the concept of Black History Month in February 1969. A year later, the first observance of Black History Month occurred at Kent State University, spanning from January 2nd to February 28th, 1970.

February 14, 2024

How to celebrate Black History Month at work: 9 impactful ways

Discover nine meaningful ways to honor Black History Month in your workplace. From exploring local Black history museums to supporting Black-owned food delivery companies and amplifying Black voices on social media, these ideas will foster inclusivity and appreciation throughout the month.

Team Tiimo

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • 1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone
  • 2. Explore your local Black History Museum
  • 3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company
  • 4. Amplify Black voices
  • 5. Manage unconscious bias at work
  • 6. Invite guest speakers
  • 7. Conduct educational workshops
  • 8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations
  • 9. Create a resource hub
  • Final thoughts and frequent questions


Introduction

Black History Month is an annual observance that provides an opportunity for reflection, education, and celebration of the contributions and achievements of African Americans. Recognizing this important month at work not only honors this rich history but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect. Here are nine impactful ideas to celebrate Black History Month at your workplace:

1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone

Kicking off Black History Month with an all-hands meeting is a powerful way to bring everyone together and underscore the importance of the celebration. This initial gathering is not just a meeting; it's an opportunity to unite the team under a common understanding and appreciation for the contributions and struggles of African Americans throughout history. 

Here's how to make the most of this kickoff meeting:

Outline the agenda

Start by clearly outlining what Black History Month means and why it is observed. This can include a brief history of the month itself, its origins, and its significance in today’s social climate. This foundational understanding helps to contextualize the month’s activities and emphasizes why it's important to participate and learn.

Express commitment to diversity and inclusion

The kickoff meeting is the perfect moment for company leaders to express their unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. This can be done by highlighting past initiatives, sharing future plans, and discussing the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. It's crucial that employees see this commitment not just in words but in actions and policies that reflect the company's values.

Highlight planned events

Provide a detailed overview of the events and activities planned for Black History Month. This could include guest speakers, educational workshops, museum visits, or film screenings. Encouraging employees to participate in these events can be more effective if you explain the purpose and expected outcomes of each activity. Knowing what to expect can increase interest and engagement.

Encourage participation and dialogue

Emphasize that participation is key to making the most of Black History Month. Encourage employees to not only attend events but to engage actively—ask questions, share thoughts, and participate in discussions. Promote an open dialogue, stressing that this is a safe space for learning and sharing, even about potentially difficult topics related to race and history.

Highlight resources for learning

Acknowledge that learning and growth extend beyond organized events. Share resources available to employees who wish to further their understanding of Black History and current social issues. This could include books, articles, podcasts, and videos. Encouraging self-driven learning complements the structured activities and allows individuals to explore topics that personally interest them.

Set a respectful and celebratory tone

The tone of the meeting should balance respect for the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans with a celebration of their achievements and contributions. Recognizing the depth and complexity of Black history helps foster a genuine appreciation and moves beyond a superficial acknowledgment of the month.

Encourage feedback and suggestions

Invite employees to share their ideas for celebrating Black History Month and fostering a more inclusive workplace year-round. This not only makes the planning process more democratic but also helps employees feel valued and heard. It's a way to gather fresh ideas and ensure that the celebration evolves to reflect the diverse perspectives within your team.

Closing remarks

Conclude the meeting with a clear message of unity and collective growth. Reiterate the importance of everyone’s participation and the role it plays in building a more inclusive and understanding workplace. Encourage employees to reflect on what they learn throughout the month and to carry these insights forward into their daily lives and interactions.

2. Explore your local Black History museum

Exploring your local Black History Museum as part of celebrating Black History Month at work is a profoundly educational and immersive experience. It offers employees a tangible connection to the narratives, struggles, and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Here's how to maximize the impact of this activity:

Planning the visit

1. Research and select a museum: Start by identifying local museums that focus on Black history or have significant exhibits on African American culture, history, and art. Consider the museum’s offerings, such as guided tours, interactive exhibits, and educational programs, to ensure a comprehensive and engaging experience. 

2. Coordinate with the museum: Reach out to the museum to discuss arranging a private tour for your company. Museums often have educational departments that can tailor tours to your group's size, interests, and the time you have available. Ask about special exhibits or programs that might coincide with your visit.

3. Schedule and communicate: Choose a date and time that minimizes disruption to work while maximizing attendance. Communicate the details well in advance, including the agenda, transportation arrangements, and any preparation required from employees. Consider making attendance optional but encouraged, showing respect for individual schedules and commitments.

Enhancing the experience

1. Guided tours: Opt for a guided tour if available. Guides can provide in-depth knowledge, share poignant stories, and answer questions, enriching the learning experience. Tailor the tour to focus on aspects of Black history that align with your company's industry, community, or interests to make the experience more relevant and impactful.

2. Interactive and immersive experiences: Many museums offer interactive exhibits, such as virtual reality experiences, audio tours, and hands-on activities. These can make the visit more engaging and memorable, helping employees better understand and empathize with the historical contexts and personal stories presented.

3. Pre-visit materials: If possible, provide employees with articles, videos, or podcasts related to the museum's exhibits or themes in advance. This can help frame the visit, sparking curiosity and preparing participants for a more meaningful engagement with the museum content.

Virtual tour alternatives

If an in-person visit isn’t feasible, many museums offer virtual tours or online collections. Here's how to organize a virtual museum visit:

1. Select a virtual tour: Choose a museum that offers comprehensive virtual tours and has robust online resources. Ensure the content is engaging and accessible for all employees, regardless of their familiarity with Black history.

2. Organize a group viewing: Schedule a time for employees to experience the virtual tour together, either in a common space at work or via a video conferencing platform. This can help recreate the sense of a shared experience and facilitate discussion.

3. Discussion and reflection: After the tour, whether in-person or virtual, organize a group discussion to reflect on the experience. Encourage employees to share what they learned, how it impacted them, and any thoughts or questions the visit provoked. This can deepen the educational impact and foster a sense of community and shared understanding.

Follow-up

1. Feedback and insights: Gather feedback on the museum visit to understand its impact and how future outings might be improved. Ask employees how the experience has influenced their understanding of Black history and culture.

2. Continued learning: Encourage employees to continue exploring Black history beyond the museum visit. Share resources for further learning and consider organizing more cultural outings throughout the year.

By organizing a visit to a local Black History Museum, companies can provide employees with a powerful lens through which to view the past, understand the present, and inspire a more inclusive future. This experience not only educates but also cultivates empathy and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of experiences that shape our world.

3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company

Supporting a Black-owned food delivery company to celebrate Black History Month at work is a unique and impactful way to engage employees while contributing positively to the local Black economy. Culinary experiences can serve as a delicious gateway to cultural education and appreciation. Here's how to make this initiative both enjoyable and enlightening:

Identifying and selecting a business

1. Research local Black-owned food businesses: Start by compiling a list of Black-owned food delivery services and restaurants in your area. Utilize online directories, social media, and local food blogs focused on promoting Black-owned businesses.

2. Consider menu diversity: Choose a business that offers a menu reflecting the rich culinary traditions of the African diaspora. This could range from traditional African dishes, Caribbean flavors, to soul food, depending on what's available in your area.

3. Verify delivery capabilities: Ensure the selected business can accommodate your delivery needs, considering the size of your order and the location of your office. It might be beneficial to discuss any specific arrangements directly with the business owner to ensure a smooth experience.

Planning the meal

1. Menu selection: Collaborate with the chosen business to select a menu that offers a variety of dishes. This allows employees to explore different flavors and dishes, catering to various dietary preferences and restrictions.

2. Educational component: Request information about the dishes you’re ordering — their origins, cultural significance, and any stories behind them. This information can be shared with employees to turn the meal into an educational experience, deepening their appreciation for the food and the cultures it represents.

3. Logistics: Plan the logistics of the meal, considering the best time to schedule the delivery to minimize work disruption and ensure everyone can participate. Set up a designated area for food distribution, keeping in mind the need for a convenient and comfortable space where employees can enjoy their meal.

Enhancing the experience

1. Share the story: Before the meal, share the story and background of the food delivery company and the cuisine being served. This could be in the form of a brief presentation, printed materials placed around the dining area, or even a short video from the business owner explaining their culinary approach and the history behind their dishes.

2. Engage and discuss: Encourage employees to discuss their thoughts on the meal and any new insights they gained from the experience. This could be facilitated through discussion prompts placed on tables, or by organizing a post-meal discussion forum.

3. Feedback and support: Gather feedback from employees on the experience and consider making support for Black-owned businesses a regular part of your company culture. This could involve rotating different businesses for future events or creating a directory of local Black-owned businesses for employees to explore personally.

After the meal

1. Social media shoutout: With the business owner’s permission, share your company’s experience supporting their business on your social media channels. Highlight the dishes you enjoyed and the story of the business, tagging them to increase their visibility.

2. Continued engagement: Encourage employees to continue supporting Black-owned food businesses personally. Sharing a list of businesses and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations can have a lasting impact on these businesses’ success.

3. Reflect on impact: Reflect on the broader impact of this initiative on both your workplace culture and the local black economy. Consider integrating this practice into your company’s regular operations, not just during Black History Month but as an ongoing effort to support diversity and inclusion.

4. Amplify Black voices

Amplifying Black voices (see changemakers Delvene and Paff) through your company's social media platforms is a powerful way to celebrate Black History Month and contribute to the broader conversation on diversity and inclusion. This initiative goes beyond mere acknowledgment, actively promoting the work, insights, and achievements of Black individuals and businesses. Here’s how to approach this effectively in a concise manner:

Curate meaningful content

1. Identify content creators: Seek out content by Black artists, writers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs. Focus on those whose work or message aligns with your company's values or industry. 

2. Diverse formats: Share a variety of content types, such as articles that provide historical insights, podcasts that delve into contemporary issues, videos that showcase artistic expressions, and posts that highlight achievements.

Highlight Black-owned businesses

1. Business profiles: Feature profiles or stories of Black-owned businesses, especially those in your local community or within your industry. This can help shine a light on their contributions and encourage support from your audience.

2. Collaborations: Consider collaborations or partnerships with Black-owned businesses for social media takeovers, joint events, or content series. This not only amplifies their voices but also builds meaningful connections.

Engage with the content

1. Encourage interaction: Engage your audience by asking questions, encouraging them to share their thoughts, and prompting them to explore these voices and stories further. 

2. Highlight contributions: Make it a point to highlight the contributions of African Americans in your industry, showcasing how their innovations, leadership, and creativity have shaped the field.

Continuous support

1. Beyond Black History Month: While amplifying Black voices is especially important during Black History Month, strive to maintain this level of support and visibility throughout the year. Integrating this practice into your regular content calendar demonstrates a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.

2. Feedback and learning: Be open to feedback from your audience and from the creators or businesses you feature. This can be a learning opportunity for your company to better understand how to support and engage with Black communities effectively.

Amplifying Black voices on social media is an actionable and impactful way to honor Black History Month while fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect. By thoughtfully selecting and sharing content, your company can play an essential role in celebrating black achievements and supporting a more equitable society.

5. Manage unconscious bias at work

To practically manage unconscious bias at work during Black History Month and beyond, organizations can adopt a hands-on approach that translates awareness into action. Here are some actions you can take to to make unconscious bias management a tangible part of your workplace culture:

Launch interactive bias training workshops

Initiate workshops that are designed to be highly interactive, focusing on real-life scenarios that employees might encounter in their daily work lives. Use role-playing games and simulations to illustrate how unconscious bias affects decision-making and interpersonal relationships. This method helps employees recognize and confront their biases in a safe, educational setting.

Implement bias awareness tools

Introduce tools and resources, such as bias-checklists or decision-making flowcharts, that employees can use to self-check for biases before making key decisions, especially in hiring, promotions, and project assignments. These tools serve as practical reminders to pause and reflect on the fairness and inclusivity of their actions.

Encourage personal reflection journals

Promote the use of personal reflection journals where employees can note down instances where they recognized their own biases and how they addressed them. Encouraging personal accountability helps in internalizing the lessons learned during bias training workshops.

Facilitate discussion circles

Organize regular discussion circles where employees can share experiences and insights related to unconscious bias in a non-judgmental space. These discussions can be anchored around themes from Black History Month, allowing employees to connect historical knowledge with contemporary workplace scenarios.

Utilize Black History Month as a learning backdrop

During Black History Month, specifically tailor some of your unconscious bias training to include historical and cultural contexts that highlight the achievements and challenges of African Americans. This can include guest speakers, documentaries, or curated reading lists that provide depth to the understanding of biases.

Promote peer learning

Pair employees from different backgrounds for a peer learning program. Encouraging them to share their personal experiences and cultural backgrounds with each other can dismantle stereotypes and reduce unconscious biases through direct, personal connections.

Monitor and measure progress

Set up mechanisms to regularly assess the impact of these initiatives on workplace culture and employee behavior. Surveys, feedback forms, and discussion outcomes can provide valuable insights into how effectively bias is being managed and where further attention is needed.

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6. Invite guest speakers

Inviting guest speakers to share their experiences and knowledge is a powerful way to honor Black History Month in the workplace. This initiative can bring fresh perspectives, inspire employees, and foster a culture of learning and inclusivity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the most of this opportunity:

Identifying and inviting speakers

1. Research potential speakers: Look for experts, leaders, and influencers within the Black community who can speak on relevant topics. This could include local historians who specialize in African American history, activists working on current social justice issues, or professionals who have made significant contributions to their fields.

2. Select diverse topics: Choose speakers who can cover a range of topics to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the Black experience. Topics could range from historical events and figures to contemporary issues facing the Black community, as well as success stories and contributions of Black individuals in various sectors.

3. Extend invitations: Reach out to potential speakers with a clear and respectful invitation, outlining why you believe their contribution would be valuable and how it fits into your Black History Month programming. Be sure to discuss logistics, including format (in-person or virtual), date, time, audience, and any honorarium or speaker fees.

Preparing for the event

1. Promote the event: Use internal channels to inform employees about the guest speaker event. Highlight the speaker’s background and the topics they will cover to generate interest and encourage attendance. 

2. Technical setup: Ensure all technical aspects are handled, whether the event is in-person or virtual. This includes audio-visual equipment for presentations and ensuring a stable internet connection for virtual talks.

3. Facilitate Engagement: Plan for a Q&A session after the presentation to encourage engagement. Consider collecting questions in advance or having a moderator to facilitate the discussion.

During the event

1. Provide a warm welcome: Introduce the speaker with a brief overview of their achievements and the significance of their work. This sets a respectful tone and frames the conversation.

2. Foster an inclusive environment: Encourage an atmosphere of respect and openness, reminding attendees of the importance of listening and learning from the speaker’s experiences and insights.

3. Document the event: Consider recording the event (with the speaker’s permission) so it can be available for employees who are unable to attend. This also allows for revisiting the insights shared during the event.

Post-event actions

1. Express gratitude: Send a thank-you note to the speaker, expressing appreciation for their contribution and the impact of their talk on your team.

2. Gather feedback: Collect feedback from employees on the event to gauge its impact and gather suggestions for future speakers or topics. This helps in tailoring future events to employee interests and needs.

3. Reflect and act: Encourage team leaders and employees to reflect on the insights gained from the speaker and discuss how these can be translated into actionable steps towards more inclusive workplace practices.

7. Conduct educational workshops

This Black History Month, why not elevate your workplace's engagement and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the powerful tool of educational workshops? These sessions are more than just meetings; they are bridges to deeper comprehension and appreciation of Black history and culture, fostering a more inclusive work environment. Here's a fresh take on organizing workshops that can inspire and educate your team.

Crafting a curriculum that matters

Start with the why: Before you dive into planning, anchor your workshops in the "why." Remind your team of the importance of these sessions — not just as a nod to Black History Month but as a step towards building a truly inclusive workplace where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Choose topics that resonate: From the rich tapestry of African American music and literature to critical issues like unconscious bias and systemic inequalities, select topics that will resonate most with your team. Consider conducting a pre-workshop survey to gauge interests and needs, ensuring the content is both relevant and engaging.

Making workshops interactive and impactful

Invite dynamic speakers: Partner with dynamic speakers who can bring these topics to life. Look for individuals who are not only knowledgeable but also passionate about their subject matter — be they scholars, activists, or artists. Their energy can turn a standard workshop into an unforgettable experience.

Incorporate hands-on activities: Transform passive learning into active engagement with hands-on activities. For workshops on African American music, consider a listening session followed by a discussion on its historical context and influence. For literature, host a read-aloud or a creative writing session inspired by African American authors.

Foster open dialogues: Create a safe space for open dialogue, encouraging participants to share their thoughts, questions, and experiences. These conversations can be the most impactful part of a workshop, allowing for personal growth and collective insight.

Enhancing the workshop experience

Utilize multimedia resources: Enrich your workshops with multimedia resources. Videos, podcasts, and interactive websites can provide diverse perspectives and deepen the learning experience, making complex topics more accessible and engaging.

Provide take-home materials: Offer participants take-home materials or resources for further exploration. This could include reading lists, links to documentaries, or guides to local cultural sites, encouraging ongoing learning beyond the workshop.

Measure impact and iterate: After the workshop, gather feedback to understand its impact and how future sessions can be improved. This feedback loop is crucial for refining your approach and ensuring the workshops remain meaningful and effective.

Beyond Black History Month

While these workshops are a fantastic way to honor Black History Month, their true value lies in their ability to effect lasting change. By integrating these educational experiences into your company's regular programming, you can continue to nurture an environment of understanding, respect, and inclusion all year round.

8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations

This Black History Month, take a step beyond traditional celebrations and engage your team in volunteering for organizations that champion the Black community. It’s a moment to transform goodwill into action, fostering a spirit of giving back that resonates with every team member. Here’s a revitalized approach to making volunteering a cornerstone of your Black History Month observance.

Identifying meaningful opportunities

Connect with purpose: Begin with a clear purpose in mind. Why is volunteering important for your team? Aligning your volunteering efforts with your company's values not only amplifies the impact but also ensures sustained engagement from your team.

Discover organizations making a difference: Seek out black-led nonprofits, community groups, and initiatives that are making tangible differences in areas such as education, social justice, health care, and economic empowerment. Highlighting these organizations’ missions and achievements can inspire your team and provide a clear picture of the impact their volunteering can have.

Crafting a volunteering program that inspires

Diverse volunteering options: Recognize the varied interests and abilities within your team by offering a range of volunteering opportunities. From mentorship programs that support young Black professionals to hands-on community service projects, diversity in volunteering ensures everyone can participate in a way that feels meaningful to them.

Leverage company skills: Identify opportunities for your company to offer its services pro bono. Whether it's marketing support for a local nonprofit, legal advice, or tech assistance, applying your team's professional skills can provide invaluable support to organizations in need.

Make It a team effort: Foster a sense of community and shared purpose by organizing group volunteering sessions. Team-based activities not only increase the impact but also build team cohesion and morale.

Enhancing the volunteering experience

Pre-volunteering preparation: Host a preparation session to discuss the importance of the work your team will be doing. Understanding the context and significance of their efforts can deepen the volunteering experience for your employees.

Reflect and share: After volunteering, create spaces for team members to reflect on their experiences and share insights gained. This could be through a debrief meeting, a company blog post, or social media highlights. Sharing these stories can inspire others and showcase the tangible impact of your team's efforts.

Sustain the momentum: Encourage ongoing support of Black-led organizations beyond Black History Month. Establishing long-term partnerships can lead to continued volunteer opportunities, making service a part of your company’s ethos rather than a one-time event.

Fostering long-term engagement

Incorporating volunteering into your Black History Month celebration is just the beginning. It’s about building a foundation for continuous action and support that extends far beyond a single month. By choosing to volunteer, your team contributes to meaningful change, supports vital community work, and learns through the act of service.

This Black History Month, let volunteering be the catalyst for a deeper commitment to supporting the Black community, fostering a culture of service and social responsibility within your workplace. It's an opportunity to not just talk about change, but to be an active part of it. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make a difference together.

9. Create a resource hub

In an era where knowledge is power, what better way to celebrate Black History Month than by creating a dynamic Resource Hub dedicated to Black history and culture? This initiative is more than just a compilation of resources; it's a living, breathing repository that invites exploration, contribution, and continuous learning. Here’s how to create a Resource Hub that not only educates but also engages and empowers your team.

Laying the foundation for your resource hub

Start with why: Clarify the purpose of your Resource Hub. Is it to educate, to inspire, to provoke thought, or all of the above? Understanding the "why" will guide your selections and how you present the resources to your team.

Curate with care: Begin by gathering a diverse array of materials that cover a broad spectrum of topics within Black history and culture. From the pillars of historical literature to the latest podcasts discussing contemporary issues, your Resource Hub should offer a wide range of perspectives and voices. 

Make It accessible: Ensure that your Resource Hub is easily accessible to all employees. Whether it's a dedicated section on your company's intranet, a shared cloud folder, or a specially created website, the key is to make accessing the resources as straightforward as possible.

Engaging your team with the resource hub

Encourage exploration: Invite your employees to dive into the Resource Hub with an open mind and heart. Encourage them to start with topics they’re curious about and to branch out into unfamiliar territory as they become more comfortable.

Foster contribution: Make your Resource Hub a collaborative project. Encourage employees to contribute resources they’ve found insightful, impactful, or inspiring. This not only enriches the Hub but also fosters a sense of ownership and community among your team.

Highlight featured resources: Regularly feature specific resources, such as a "Book of the Month" or "Podcast of the Week," to guide employees towards particularly impactful content. This can help direct attention to resources that might otherwise be overlooked.

Making the most of the resource hub

Host discussion groups: Use the Resource Hub as a springboard for discussion groups or lunch-and-learns. Selecting a particular article, podcast episode, or book section as a discussion prompt can provide structure and stimulate engaging conversations.

Track engagement and feedback: Monitor how your team interacts with the Resource Hub and solicit feedback on how it can be improved. Understanding what resources resonate with your employees can help you tailor the Hub to better meet their needs and interests.

Keep it growing: The beauty of a Resource Hub is that it’s never "finished." Continually update the Hub with new materials, ensuring it remains a relevant and valuable tool for education and engagement.

Fostering lasting cultural engagement

While your resource hub may launch as part of Black History Month, its true value lies in its longevity and ability to facilitate ongoing education and dialogue. By committing to regularly update and promote the Hub, you ensure that the lessons of Black History Month extend throughout the year, weaving a deeper understanding and appreciation of Black history and culture into the fabric of your workplace.

Creating a resource hub is a testament to your company’s commitment to not just celebrating diversity but actively engaging with it. It’s an invitation to your team to learn, reflect, and grow—a journey that, while sparked by Black History Month, continues to enrich and inform far beyond February.

Final thoughts and frequent questions

Celebrating Black History Month at work is about more than just recognition; it’s an opportunity to educate, reflect, and grow as a community. By implementing these nine ideas, companies can create a more inclusive and respectful workplace culture. Remember, the celebration of Black history and culture should extend beyond February, integrating into your company’s practices year-round.

Encouraging ongoing education and dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion benefits everyone by fostering a more inclusive and understanding workplace environment. Let this Black History Month be a starting point for continuous growth and learning within your organization.


Frequent question: how did february get to be Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson opted for February due to tradition and a desire for reform. It is often cited that he chose this month to encompass the birthdays of two significant figures in African American history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, born on the 12th and 14th, respectively, thus shaping the narrative of Black History Month.

Frequent question: when did Black History Month start?

Black educators and members of Black United Students at Kent State University initially suggested the concept of Black History Month in February 1969. A year later, the first observance of Black History Month occurred at Kent State University, spanning from January 2nd to February 28th, 1970.

How to celebrate Black History Month at work: 9 impactful ways
February 14, 2024

How to celebrate Black History Month at work: 9 impactful ways

Discover nine meaningful ways to honor Black History Month in your workplace. From exploring local Black history museums to supporting Black-owned food delivery companies and amplifying Black voices on social media, these ideas will foster inclusivity and appreciation throughout the month.

Georgina Shute

Georgina is an ADHD coach and digital leader. She set up KindTwo to empower as many people as possible to work with Neurodiversity - not against it.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • 1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone
  • 2. Explore your local Black History Museum
  • 3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company
  • 4. Amplify Black voices
  • 5. Manage unconscious bias at work
  • 6. Invite guest speakers
  • 7. Conduct educational workshops
  • 8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations
  • 9. Create a resource hub
  • Final thoughts and frequent questions


Introduction

Black History Month is an annual observance that provides an opportunity for reflection, education, and celebration of the contributions and achievements of African Americans. Recognizing this important month at work not only honors this rich history but also fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect. Here are nine impactful ideas to celebrate Black History Month at your workplace:

1. Host a kickoff meeting to set the tone

Kicking off Black History Month with an all-hands meeting is a powerful way to bring everyone together and underscore the importance of the celebration. This initial gathering is not just a meeting; it's an opportunity to unite the team under a common understanding and appreciation for the contributions and struggles of African Americans throughout history. 

Here's how to make the most of this kickoff meeting:

Outline the agenda

Start by clearly outlining what Black History Month means and why it is observed. This can include a brief history of the month itself, its origins, and its significance in today’s social climate. This foundational understanding helps to contextualize the month’s activities and emphasizes why it's important to participate and learn.

Express commitment to diversity and inclusion

The kickoff meeting is the perfect moment for company leaders to express their unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. This can be done by highlighting past initiatives, sharing future plans, and discussing the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. It's crucial that employees see this commitment not just in words but in actions and policies that reflect the company's values.

Highlight planned events

Provide a detailed overview of the events and activities planned for Black History Month. This could include guest speakers, educational workshops, museum visits, or film screenings. Encouraging employees to participate in these events can be more effective if you explain the purpose and expected outcomes of each activity. Knowing what to expect can increase interest and engagement.

Encourage participation and dialogue

Emphasize that participation is key to making the most of Black History Month. Encourage employees to not only attend events but to engage actively—ask questions, share thoughts, and participate in discussions. Promote an open dialogue, stressing that this is a safe space for learning and sharing, even about potentially difficult topics related to race and history.

Highlight resources for learning

Acknowledge that learning and growth extend beyond organized events. Share resources available to employees who wish to further their understanding of Black History and current social issues. This could include books, articles, podcasts, and videos. Encouraging self-driven learning complements the structured activities and allows individuals to explore topics that personally interest them.

Set a respectful and celebratory tone

The tone of the meeting should balance respect for the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans with a celebration of their achievements and contributions. Recognizing the depth and complexity of Black history helps foster a genuine appreciation and moves beyond a superficial acknowledgment of the month.

Encourage feedback and suggestions

Invite employees to share their ideas for celebrating Black History Month and fostering a more inclusive workplace year-round. This not only makes the planning process more democratic but also helps employees feel valued and heard. It's a way to gather fresh ideas and ensure that the celebration evolves to reflect the diverse perspectives within your team.

Closing remarks

Conclude the meeting with a clear message of unity and collective growth. Reiterate the importance of everyone’s participation and the role it plays in building a more inclusive and understanding workplace. Encourage employees to reflect on what they learn throughout the month and to carry these insights forward into their daily lives and interactions.

2. Explore your local Black History museum

Exploring your local Black History Museum as part of celebrating Black History Month at work is a profoundly educational and immersive experience. It offers employees a tangible connection to the narratives, struggles, and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Here's how to maximize the impact of this activity:

Planning the visit

1. Research and select a museum: Start by identifying local museums that focus on Black history or have significant exhibits on African American culture, history, and art. Consider the museum’s offerings, such as guided tours, interactive exhibits, and educational programs, to ensure a comprehensive and engaging experience. 

2. Coordinate with the museum: Reach out to the museum to discuss arranging a private tour for your company. Museums often have educational departments that can tailor tours to your group's size, interests, and the time you have available. Ask about special exhibits or programs that might coincide with your visit.

3. Schedule and communicate: Choose a date and time that minimizes disruption to work while maximizing attendance. Communicate the details well in advance, including the agenda, transportation arrangements, and any preparation required from employees. Consider making attendance optional but encouraged, showing respect for individual schedules and commitments.

Enhancing the experience

1. Guided tours: Opt for a guided tour if available. Guides can provide in-depth knowledge, share poignant stories, and answer questions, enriching the learning experience. Tailor the tour to focus on aspects of Black history that align with your company's industry, community, or interests to make the experience more relevant and impactful.

2. Interactive and immersive experiences: Many museums offer interactive exhibits, such as virtual reality experiences, audio tours, and hands-on activities. These can make the visit more engaging and memorable, helping employees better understand and empathize with the historical contexts and personal stories presented.

3. Pre-visit materials: If possible, provide employees with articles, videos, or podcasts related to the museum's exhibits or themes in advance. This can help frame the visit, sparking curiosity and preparing participants for a more meaningful engagement with the museum content.

Virtual tour alternatives

If an in-person visit isn’t feasible, many museums offer virtual tours or online collections. Here's how to organize a virtual museum visit:

1. Select a virtual tour: Choose a museum that offers comprehensive virtual tours and has robust online resources. Ensure the content is engaging and accessible for all employees, regardless of their familiarity with Black history.

2. Organize a group viewing: Schedule a time for employees to experience the virtual tour together, either in a common space at work or via a video conferencing platform. This can help recreate the sense of a shared experience and facilitate discussion.

3. Discussion and reflection: After the tour, whether in-person or virtual, organize a group discussion to reflect on the experience. Encourage employees to share what they learned, how it impacted them, and any thoughts or questions the visit provoked. This can deepen the educational impact and foster a sense of community and shared understanding.

Follow-up

1. Feedback and insights: Gather feedback on the museum visit to understand its impact and how future outings might be improved. Ask employees how the experience has influenced their understanding of Black history and culture.

2. Continued learning: Encourage employees to continue exploring Black history beyond the museum visit. Share resources for further learning and consider organizing more cultural outings throughout the year.

By organizing a visit to a local Black History Museum, companies can provide employees with a powerful lens through which to view the past, understand the present, and inspire a more inclusive future. This experience not only educates but also cultivates empathy and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of experiences that shape our world.

3. Support a Black-owned food delivery company

Supporting a Black-owned food delivery company to celebrate Black History Month at work is a unique and impactful way to engage employees while contributing positively to the local Black economy. Culinary experiences can serve as a delicious gateway to cultural education and appreciation. Here's how to make this initiative both enjoyable and enlightening:

Identifying and selecting a business

1. Research local Black-owned food businesses: Start by compiling a list of Black-owned food delivery services and restaurants in your area. Utilize online directories, social media, and local food blogs focused on promoting Black-owned businesses.

2. Consider menu diversity: Choose a business that offers a menu reflecting the rich culinary traditions of the African diaspora. This could range from traditional African dishes, Caribbean flavors, to soul food, depending on what's available in your area.

3. Verify delivery capabilities: Ensure the selected business can accommodate your delivery needs, considering the size of your order and the location of your office. It might be beneficial to discuss any specific arrangements directly with the business owner to ensure a smooth experience.

Planning the meal

1. Menu selection: Collaborate with the chosen business to select a menu that offers a variety of dishes. This allows employees to explore different flavors and dishes, catering to various dietary preferences and restrictions.

2. Educational component: Request information about the dishes you’re ordering — their origins, cultural significance, and any stories behind them. This information can be shared with employees to turn the meal into an educational experience, deepening their appreciation for the food and the cultures it represents.

3. Logistics: Plan the logistics of the meal, considering the best time to schedule the delivery to minimize work disruption and ensure everyone can participate. Set up a designated area for food distribution, keeping in mind the need for a convenient and comfortable space where employees can enjoy their meal.

Enhancing the experience

1. Share the story: Before the meal, share the story and background of the food delivery company and the cuisine being served. This could be in the form of a brief presentation, printed materials placed around the dining area, or even a short video from the business owner explaining their culinary approach and the history behind their dishes.

2. Engage and discuss: Encourage employees to discuss their thoughts on the meal and any new insights they gained from the experience. This could be facilitated through discussion prompts placed on tables, or by organizing a post-meal discussion forum.

3. Feedback and support: Gather feedback from employees on the experience and consider making support for Black-owned businesses a regular part of your company culture. This could involve rotating different businesses for future events or creating a directory of local Black-owned businesses for employees to explore personally.

After the meal

1. Social media shoutout: With the business owner’s permission, share your company’s experience supporting their business on your social media channels. Highlight the dishes you enjoyed and the story of the business, tagging them to increase their visibility.

2. Continued engagement: Encourage employees to continue supporting Black-owned food businesses personally. Sharing a list of businesses and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations can have a lasting impact on these businesses’ success.

3. Reflect on impact: Reflect on the broader impact of this initiative on both your workplace culture and the local black economy. Consider integrating this practice into your company’s regular operations, not just during Black History Month but as an ongoing effort to support diversity and inclusion.

4. Amplify Black voices

Amplifying Black voices (see changemakers Delvene and Paff) through your company's social media platforms is a powerful way to celebrate Black History Month and contribute to the broader conversation on diversity and inclusion. This initiative goes beyond mere acknowledgment, actively promoting the work, insights, and achievements of Black individuals and businesses. Here’s how to approach this effectively in a concise manner:

Curate meaningful content

1. Identify content creators: Seek out content by Black artists, writers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs. Focus on those whose work or message aligns with your company's values or industry. 

2. Diverse formats: Share a variety of content types, such as articles that provide historical insights, podcasts that delve into contemporary issues, videos that showcase artistic expressions, and posts that highlight achievements.

Highlight Black-owned businesses

1. Business profiles: Feature profiles or stories of Black-owned businesses, especially those in your local community or within your industry. This can help shine a light on their contributions and encourage support from your audience.

2. Collaborations: Consider collaborations or partnerships with Black-owned businesses for social media takeovers, joint events, or content series. This not only amplifies their voices but also builds meaningful connections.

Engage with the content

1. Encourage interaction: Engage your audience by asking questions, encouraging them to share their thoughts, and prompting them to explore these voices and stories further. 

2. Highlight contributions: Make it a point to highlight the contributions of African Americans in your industry, showcasing how their innovations, leadership, and creativity have shaped the field.

Continuous support

1. Beyond Black History Month: While amplifying Black voices is especially important during Black History Month, strive to maintain this level of support and visibility throughout the year. Integrating this practice into your regular content calendar demonstrates a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.

2. Feedback and learning: Be open to feedback from your audience and from the creators or businesses you feature. This can be a learning opportunity for your company to better understand how to support and engage with Black communities effectively.

Amplifying Black voices on social media is an actionable and impactful way to honor Black History Month while fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect. By thoughtfully selecting and sharing content, your company can play an essential role in celebrating black achievements and supporting a more equitable society.

5. Manage unconscious bias at work

To practically manage unconscious bias at work during Black History Month and beyond, organizations can adopt a hands-on approach that translates awareness into action. Here are some actions you can take to to make unconscious bias management a tangible part of your workplace culture:

Launch interactive bias training workshops

Initiate workshops that are designed to be highly interactive, focusing on real-life scenarios that employees might encounter in their daily work lives. Use role-playing games and simulations to illustrate how unconscious bias affects decision-making and interpersonal relationships. This method helps employees recognize and confront their biases in a safe, educational setting.

Implement bias awareness tools

Introduce tools and resources, such as bias-checklists or decision-making flowcharts, that employees can use to self-check for biases before making key decisions, especially in hiring, promotions, and project assignments. These tools serve as practical reminders to pause and reflect on the fairness and inclusivity of their actions.

Encourage personal reflection journals

Promote the use of personal reflection journals where employees can note down instances where they recognized their own biases and how they addressed them. Encouraging personal accountability helps in internalizing the lessons learned during bias training workshops.

Facilitate discussion circles

Organize regular discussion circles where employees can share experiences and insights related to unconscious bias in a non-judgmental space. These discussions can be anchored around themes from Black History Month, allowing employees to connect historical knowledge with contemporary workplace scenarios.

Utilize Black History Month as a learning backdrop

During Black History Month, specifically tailor some of your unconscious bias training to include historical and cultural contexts that highlight the achievements and challenges of African Americans. This can include guest speakers, documentaries, or curated reading lists that provide depth to the understanding of biases.

Promote peer learning

Pair employees from different backgrounds for a peer learning program. Encouraging them to share their personal experiences and cultural backgrounds with each other can dismantle stereotypes and reduce unconscious biases through direct, personal connections.

Monitor and measure progress

Set up mechanisms to regularly assess the impact of these initiatives on workplace culture and employee behavior. Surveys, feedback forms, and discussion outcomes can provide valuable insights into how effectively bias is being managed and where further attention is needed.

6. Invite guest speakers

Inviting guest speakers to share their experiences and knowledge is a powerful way to honor Black History Month in the workplace. This initiative can bring fresh perspectives, inspire employees, and foster a culture of learning and inclusivity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the most of this opportunity:

Identifying and inviting speakers

1. Research potential speakers: Look for experts, leaders, and influencers within the Black community who can speak on relevant topics. This could include local historians who specialize in African American history, activists working on current social justice issues, or professionals who have made significant contributions to their fields.

2. Select diverse topics: Choose speakers who can cover a range of topics to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the Black experience. Topics could range from historical events and figures to contemporary issues facing the Black community, as well as success stories and contributions of Black individuals in various sectors.

3. Extend invitations: Reach out to potential speakers with a clear and respectful invitation, outlining why you believe their contribution would be valuable and how it fits into your Black History Month programming. Be sure to discuss logistics, including format (in-person or virtual), date, time, audience, and any honorarium or speaker fees.

Preparing for the event

1. Promote the event: Use internal channels to inform employees about the guest speaker event. Highlight the speaker’s background and the topics they will cover to generate interest and encourage attendance. 

2. Technical setup: Ensure all technical aspects are handled, whether the event is in-person or virtual. This includes audio-visual equipment for presentations and ensuring a stable internet connection for virtual talks.

3. Facilitate Engagement: Plan for a Q&A session after the presentation to encourage engagement. Consider collecting questions in advance or having a moderator to facilitate the discussion.

During the event

1. Provide a warm welcome: Introduce the speaker with a brief overview of their achievements and the significance of their work. This sets a respectful tone and frames the conversation.

2. Foster an inclusive environment: Encourage an atmosphere of respect and openness, reminding attendees of the importance of listening and learning from the speaker’s experiences and insights.

3. Document the event: Consider recording the event (with the speaker’s permission) so it can be available for employees who are unable to attend. This also allows for revisiting the insights shared during the event.

Post-event actions

1. Express gratitude: Send a thank-you note to the speaker, expressing appreciation for their contribution and the impact of their talk on your team.

2. Gather feedback: Collect feedback from employees on the event to gauge its impact and gather suggestions for future speakers or topics. This helps in tailoring future events to employee interests and needs.

3. Reflect and act: Encourage team leaders and employees to reflect on the insights gained from the speaker and discuss how these can be translated into actionable steps towards more inclusive workplace practices.

7. Conduct educational workshops

This Black History Month, why not elevate your workplace's engagement and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion through the powerful tool of educational workshops? These sessions are more than just meetings; they are bridges to deeper comprehension and appreciation of Black history and culture, fostering a more inclusive work environment. Here's a fresh take on organizing workshops that can inspire and educate your team.

Crafting a curriculum that matters

Start with the why: Before you dive into planning, anchor your workshops in the "why." Remind your team of the importance of these sessions — not just as a nod to Black History Month but as a step towards building a truly inclusive workplace where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Choose topics that resonate: From the rich tapestry of African American music and literature to critical issues like unconscious bias and systemic inequalities, select topics that will resonate most with your team. Consider conducting a pre-workshop survey to gauge interests and needs, ensuring the content is both relevant and engaging.

Making workshops interactive and impactful

Invite dynamic speakers: Partner with dynamic speakers who can bring these topics to life. Look for individuals who are not only knowledgeable but also passionate about their subject matter — be they scholars, activists, or artists. Their energy can turn a standard workshop into an unforgettable experience.

Incorporate hands-on activities: Transform passive learning into active engagement with hands-on activities. For workshops on African American music, consider a listening session followed by a discussion on its historical context and influence. For literature, host a read-aloud or a creative writing session inspired by African American authors.

Foster open dialogues: Create a safe space for open dialogue, encouraging participants to share their thoughts, questions, and experiences. These conversations can be the most impactful part of a workshop, allowing for personal growth and collective insight.

Enhancing the workshop experience

Utilize multimedia resources: Enrich your workshops with multimedia resources. Videos, podcasts, and interactive websites can provide diverse perspectives and deepen the learning experience, making complex topics more accessible and engaging.

Provide take-home materials: Offer participants take-home materials or resources for further exploration. This could include reading lists, links to documentaries, or guides to local cultural sites, encouraging ongoing learning beyond the workshop.

Measure impact and iterate: After the workshop, gather feedback to understand its impact and how future sessions can be improved. This feedback loop is crucial for refining your approach and ensuring the workshops remain meaningful and effective.

Beyond Black History Month

While these workshops are a fantastic way to honor Black History Month, their true value lies in their ability to effect lasting change. By integrating these educational experiences into your company's regular programming, you can continue to nurture an environment of understanding, respect, and inclusion all year round.

8. Volunteer for Black-led organizations

This Black History Month, take a step beyond traditional celebrations and engage your team in volunteering for organizations that champion the Black community. It’s a moment to transform goodwill into action, fostering a spirit of giving back that resonates with every team member. Here’s a revitalized approach to making volunteering a cornerstone of your Black History Month observance.

Identifying meaningful opportunities

Connect with purpose: Begin with a clear purpose in mind. Why is volunteering important for your team? Aligning your volunteering efforts with your company's values not only amplifies the impact but also ensures sustained engagement from your team.

Discover organizations making a difference: Seek out black-led nonprofits, community groups, and initiatives that are making tangible differences in areas such as education, social justice, health care, and economic empowerment. Highlighting these organizations’ missions and achievements can inspire your team and provide a clear picture of the impact their volunteering can have.

Crafting a volunteering program that inspires

Diverse volunteering options: Recognize the varied interests and abilities within your team by offering a range of volunteering opportunities. From mentorship programs that support young Black professionals to hands-on community service projects, diversity in volunteering ensures everyone can participate in a way that feels meaningful to them.

Leverage company skills: Identify opportunities for your company to offer its services pro bono. Whether it's marketing support for a local nonprofit, legal advice, or tech assistance, applying your team's professional skills can provide invaluable support to organizations in need.

Make It a team effort: Foster a sense of community and shared purpose by organizing group volunteering sessions. Team-based activities not only increase the impact but also build team cohesion and morale.

Enhancing the volunteering experience

Pre-volunteering preparation: Host a preparation session to discuss the importance of the work your team will be doing. Understanding the context and significance of their efforts can deepen the volunteering experience for your employees.

Reflect and share: After volunteering, create spaces for team members to reflect on their experiences and share insights gained. This could be through a debrief meeting, a company blog post, or social media highlights. Sharing these stories can inspire others and showcase the tangible impact of your team's efforts.

Sustain the momentum: Encourage ongoing support of Black-led organizations beyond Black History Month. Establishing long-term partnerships can lead to continued volunteer opportunities, making service a part of your company’s ethos rather than a one-time event.

Fostering long-term engagement

Incorporating volunteering into your Black History Month celebration is just the beginning. It’s about building a foundation for continuous action and support that extends far beyond a single month. By choosing to volunteer, your team contributes to meaningful change, supports vital community work, and learns through the act of service.

This Black History Month, let volunteering be the catalyst for a deeper commitment to supporting the Black community, fostering a culture of service and social responsibility within your workplace. It's an opportunity to not just talk about change, but to be an active part of it. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make a difference together.

9. Create a resource hub

In an era where knowledge is power, what better way to celebrate Black History Month than by creating a dynamic Resource Hub dedicated to Black history and culture? This initiative is more than just a compilation of resources; it's a living, breathing repository that invites exploration, contribution, and continuous learning. Here’s how to create a Resource Hub that not only educates but also engages and empowers your team.

Laying the foundation for your resource hub

Start with why: Clarify the purpose of your Resource Hub. Is it to educate, to inspire, to provoke thought, or all of the above? Understanding the "why" will guide your selections and how you present the resources to your team.

Curate with care: Begin by gathering a diverse array of materials that cover a broad spectrum of topics within Black history and culture. From the pillars of historical literature to the latest podcasts discussing contemporary issues, your Resource Hub should offer a wide range of perspectives and voices. 

Make It accessible: Ensure that your Resource Hub is easily accessible to all employees. Whether it's a dedicated section on your company's intranet, a shared cloud folder, or a specially created website, the key is to make accessing the resources as straightforward as possible.

Engaging your team with the resource hub

Encourage exploration: Invite your employees to dive into the Resource Hub with an open mind and heart. Encourage them to start with topics they’re curious about and to branch out into unfamiliar territory as they become more comfortable.

Foster contribution: Make your Resource Hub a collaborative project. Encourage employees to contribute resources they’ve found insightful, impactful, or inspiring. This not only enriches the Hub but also fosters a sense of ownership and community among your team.

Highlight featured resources: Regularly feature specific resources, such as a "Book of the Month" or "Podcast of the Week," to guide employees towards particularly impactful content. This can help direct attention to resources that might otherwise be overlooked.

Making the most of the resource hub

Host discussion groups: Use the Resource Hub as a springboard for discussion groups or lunch-and-learns. Selecting a particular article, podcast episode, or book section as a discussion prompt can provide structure and stimulate engaging conversations.

Track engagement and feedback: Monitor how your team interacts with the Resource Hub and solicit feedback on how it can be improved. Understanding what resources resonate with your employees can help you tailor the Hub to better meet their needs and interests.

Keep it growing: The beauty of a Resource Hub is that it’s never "finished." Continually update the Hub with new materials, ensuring it remains a relevant and valuable tool for education and engagement.

Fostering lasting cultural engagement

While your resource hub may launch as part of Black History Month, its true value lies in its longevity and ability to facilitate ongoing education and dialogue. By committing to regularly update and promote the Hub, you ensure that the lessons of Black History Month extend throughout the year, weaving a deeper understanding and appreciation of Black history and culture into the fabric of your workplace.

Creating a resource hub is a testament to your company’s commitment to not just celebrating diversity but actively engaging with it. It’s an invitation to your team to learn, reflect, and grow—a journey that, while sparked by Black History Month, continues to enrich and inform far beyond February.

Final thoughts and frequent questions

Celebrating Black History Month at work is about more than just recognition; it’s an opportunity to educate, reflect, and grow as a community. By implementing these nine ideas, companies can create a more inclusive and respectful workplace culture. Remember, the celebration of Black history and culture should extend beyond February, integrating into your company’s practices year-round.

Encouraging ongoing education and dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion benefits everyone by fostering a more inclusive and understanding workplace environment. Let this Black History Month be a starting point for continuous growth and learning within your organization.


Frequent question: how did february get to be Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson opted for February due to tradition and a desire for reform. It is often cited that he chose this month to encompass the birthdays of two significant figures in African American history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, born on the 12th and 14th, respectively, thus shaping the narrative of Black History Month.

Frequent question: when did Black History Month start?

Black educators and members of Black United Students at Kent State University initially suggested the concept of Black History Month in February 1969. A year later, the first observance of Black History Month occurred at Kent State University, spanning from January 2nd to February 28th, 1970.

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