Every February, people across the United States celebrate Black History Month. After changing the format from a week-long celebration beginning in 1917, President Gerald Ford formally established February as Black History Month in 1976. But what does this mean for people in the workplace?
There is a plethora of research that covers the racism, discrimination, and unfair treatment that Black employees face even today. This attitude persists despite the efforts of diversity initiatives by some companies.
As an employer, it’s up to you to set the standard of how to eradicate discrimination and bias—conscious and unconscious—and, in the process, encourage the inclusion of all employees. Recognizing and celebrating employees’ racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds can be effective in building psychological safety and employee engagement. Here are some insights on how to accomplish this:
Race in the workplace can be a touchy subject, and as a result, many companies try to be “colorblind” in a misguided attempt at establishing equality.
In fact, when companies downplay demographic differences, this actually just increases underrepresented employees’ perception of bias from their white colleagues and reduces engagement in their work.
So, best practice: Don’t be colorblind. Your employees should be able to openly discuss, embrace, and be proud of their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Embrace your differences!
Focusing on Diversity All Year
February may be an opportune time for a company to focus on highlighting the integral role that Black employees play at a company, but it shouldn’t be the only time that a company talks about diversity and inclusion. Making a conscious effort to celebrate and elevate Black voices year-round can improve your diversity initiatives and make everyone feel more welcome. If you haven’t yet focused on diversity and inclusion in this year’s initiatives, this is a great time to start.
You may want to do this by creating new diversity initiatives or groups, promoting Employee Resource Groups, or educating your employees and managers.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to focus on diversity training, you should leave that up to the professionals. Developing initiatives internally can help, but unless you’re an expert in diversity, it might be better to let professionals handle it since it is a sensitive subject.
This kind of training can help people learn how to deal with racial issues and tackle them head-on with empathy and sensitivity rather than just ignoring them or tiptoeing around it.
Ultimately, successful inclusion efforts go beyond just honoring an affinity group once a year. It needs to be something that’s not just a one-off. It needs to be something that is woven into the work that you do all year long to create an inclusive environment.
Recruiting a Diverse Workforce
It’s important to understand your organization’s areas of growth, and Black History Month is a great opportunity to do that. If you find your company lacking in its diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, why not take the time to examine your current recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding processes?
Having diversity in your business often starts in the recruitment and hiring process. That’s why one of the best ways to celebrate Black History Month at work is by having recruiters focus on hiring diverse candidates.
There are many ways to reduce bias in the hiring process, so if you’re struggling with your recruiting process and need help finding diverse candidates for your position, GSG Talent Solutions can help! As a nonprofit and a leader in creating a dynamic and diverse workforce, we have both the resources and the people ready to help.
Contact us today to learn how we can get you set up with the tools and resources you need to start creating your diverse workforce.