How Your Company and Your People Can Support Black History Month
6 ways to reflect, celebrate and take action this Black History Month (and beyond)
February is a month for celebration, as we remember and honor the important history of Black people in North America during Black History Month. It’s also a time for reflecting, learning, taking action and considering how we can contribute to valuable and necessary change.
In honoring the legacy and achievements of Black people, companies and their people have an opportunity to drive important conversations and take continued action toward racial justice and equity throughout the year. At a time when more employees are seeking purpose at work, and more consumers are evaluating brands on their commitment to social issues, these objectives should be core to any business. According to Edelman, nearly 80% of employees expect their employer to act on and respond to societal issues like racism.1
Change starts with each of us. We can all play a vital role by renewing calls for justice, having important — sometimes tough — conversations and supporting Black communities. But understanding how and where to contribute to positive action can be overwhelming. Here are six ways individuals and companies can mobilize and take action during this important month, and throughout the year.
- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is devoted to presenting the life, history and culture of African Americans.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change is an educational and social change institution focused on ensuring King’s legacy helps to drive positive social impact.
- The National Civil Rights Museum is dedicated to sharing the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and exploring how this era continues to shape equality and freedom.
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation is building a national framework for the fight against racism in Canadian society.
- Support Black Owned is a website and mobile app that helps you find Black-owned businesses all over the United States.
- EatOkra is a great app for finding Black-owned restaurants and food services. Apple named it one of its top apps for connecting in 2021.
- Instagram and other social networks are often a good starting place for finding smaller businesses and local gems, just by searching hashtags like #supportblackbusiness or #supportblackart.
- AfroBiz is an online resource for locating Black-owned businesses across the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other countries.
3. Support organizations focused on Black health and healthcare equity and those that provide support and resources to Black communities. This year’s theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness — consider contributing to these vetted nonprofits, who are working to bring more equity to healthcare and champion issues related to Black health.
- National Black Child Development Institute develops and delivers resources that respond to the needs of Black children, including health and wellness.
- The Loveland Foundation brings opportunity and healing to communities of color, especially Black women and girls, through fellowships, residency programs and more.
- Black Mental Health Canada facilitates culturally safe and affirming mental healthcare to the Black communities of Canada.
- Black Youth Helpline provides culturally appropriate, professional, social support for youth, families and schools and access to professional assessment, intervention and services.
4. Set up a recurring donation to a nonprofit that advocates for civil rights and anti-racism, so you can consistently drive change throughout the year. Here are some vetted recommendations:
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. fights for racial justice through litigation, advocacy and public education.
- Race Forward helps people take effective action toward racial equity and advances opportunities for all.
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation fights for the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.
5. Engage in self-reflection and facilitate conversations about race and racism with friends, family and colleagues. Seek out or start an employee resource group (ERG) at work to help continue these conversations in a safe environment. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- How often do you think about your racial or ethnic identity?
- How do you actively celebrate Black history or achievements?
- Over the last year, what ideas have come to you to start making change?
Part of our journey at Benevity included a series of five table talks hosted by our Black Employee Network and friends, which was designed to create space for meaningful dialogue to explore, listen, share reflections, support and learn from one another. Out of this, we created a Race Conversations Guide on how to foster inclusive spaces in which to have an open dialogue about race.
For more questions and conversation resources, visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture Talking About Race portal.
6. Mobilize employee resource groups (ERGs): Organizations can support their employees to start their own resource groups to help drive further impact inside and outside the organization. At Benevity, our Black Employee Network and friends host year-round clubs — among many other initiatives — where our people watch movies or read books that help them better understand Black history and the experiences of Black individuals. To watch movies together, virtually, you can use technology like Teleparty. If books are more your style, here are some lists of must-read, Black-authored books:
· Oprah Winfrey’s 21 Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime
· Ideas.Ted.com’s 62 Great Books by Black Authors, Recommended by TED Speakers
· CBC’s 25 Books by Black Canadian Authors To Read
Looking for more ways to empower your employees? Connect with us to learn more about our Justice and Equality Missions library.
You can also download our ready-to-use Black History Month activation kit to help mobilize your employees to donate to nonprofits who are making a difference in the areas of Black education and awareness, health and wellness, and racial justice.
1 Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, Spring Update: A World in Trauma