Celebrate Black History Month in the workplace
Ways to honor the culture and achievements of Black Americans this February
Constructive business leaders understand how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) create a sense of belonging and fairness amongst employees. Consequentially, they see how DEI enhances innovation and business outcomes. According to a McKinsey report, diverse and inclusive companies outperform competitors by 35%. Employee resource groups are vital to improving workplace inclusivity and capitalizing on the benefits of a connected and engaged workforce.
An employee resource group (ERG) is an employee-led group that aims to promote inclusivity and build a community that aligns with company values and objectives.
ERGs are also known as affinity groups or business network groups. Membership is voluntary, and they provide employees who share interests and characteristics a meaningful way to engage and support each other's personal and career development.
ERGs form around a characteristic shared by employees, such as:
The goal of ERGs is not to create an exclusive club. Instead, their goal is to give groups equal representation in the workplace. ERGS can improve conditions for remote workers and marginalized groups by providing a space to discuss ideas and concerns, creating an environment where everyone feels safe at work.
Through this process, affinity groups help connect their members with the larger organization. This promotes allyship whereby members can inspire and support each other.
ERGs work together with organizational decision-makers to make company culture more inclusive, help employees address shared frustrations or concerns, create connections through shared interests or causes, develop a positive work environment by building trust, and more.
ERGs offer numerous benefits to the members and organization. They can foster an inclusive workplace, enhance employee experience, increase company innovation, promote cultural awareness, improve recruitment outcomes, reduce employee attrition, and identify future leaders.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are significant concerns for human resource departments. HR leaders work to ensure that all employees have equal opportunities. ERGs can inform company practices and policies by certifying that they are ethical and fair for all employees. HR leaders should partner with ERGs to establish DEI goals and strategic plans that align with company values.
DEI and ERG strategies focus on internal communities, while CSR activities focus on external communities. However, they do not have to be mutually exclusive initiatives. On the contrary, aligning such programs and their objectives can reinforce each other and deliver better results.
To align your CSR and DEI strategies, start by identifying shared values and goals. Then, create opportunities for employees to participate in activities that affect external communities. For example, promote social impact experiences like volunteering, workplace giving, or social impact rewards. Providing employees a chance to make a difference in the world is an easy way to align your company's CSR and DEI goals.
One of the primary objectives of ERGs is to create a positive culture within the company – and beyond. Social impact can cultivate a positive workplace culture by engaging employees in causes that are meaningful to them. Here are several holidays and special occasions that coordinate with ERG themes:
1. Women's Equality Day & Women's History Month
Despite great leaps in women's rights over the years, women still lack equality in our society. Women's History Month (March) and Women's Equality Day – designated on August 26th by congress – commemorate and celebrate the role of women in America's history and future. These holidays are a time to evaluate gaps in women's rights and identify solutions. They also provide a chance to support nonprofit organizations that advocate for gender equality.
2. Juneteenth & Black History Month
The struggle for Black Americans to earn equal human rights has been long and hard – and it's still underway. Juneteenth, observed on June 19th, is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This day, along with Black History Month (February), are opportunities to honor the culture and achievements of Black Americans by focusing on the issues they face and promoting organizations and movements for inclusivity and equity.
3. Hispanic Heritage Month
From September 15th to October 15th, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month. This period of the year celebrates the history, contribution, and culture of American citizens with ancestry from Mexico, Spain, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. An ERG that brings together people of Hispanic heritage can demonstrate your company’s support for their rights, food, language, and traditions.
4. Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month). During this period, Americans celebrate the cultural contributions and history of individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, including East, Southeast, and South Asia, and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing group in the United States, so this is a significant holiday to incorporate into an inclusive DEI strategy.
5. Native American Heritage Month & National Native American Heritage Day
As with other minority communities, the accomplishments and stories of the First Americans are celebrated annually during Native American Heritage Month (November) and National Native American Heritage Day (November 26th). These holidays honor and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans and recognize their importance to our past, present, and future. November is a time to listen to and acknowledge the voices of Native Americans, educate your employees about history, tribes, and raise awareness about the challenges Native people have and continue to face.
6. Pride Month
In recent decades, conversations about sexual orientation and gender have come to the forefront. While these ideas are still subjects of controversy, employees benefit from an inclusive culture that promotes belonging regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
June is Pride Month in the United States, celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexuality (LGBTQIA+). During this month, our nation reflects on the progress made to secure justice and inclusion for LGBTQIA+ Americans and our continued commitment to establishing their equal rights. It is also a time to support the LGBTQIA+ community by contributing to or volunteering for organizations that fight against intolerance, violence, and discrimination.
7. Veterans Day
Veterans command great respect among Americans. However, the unique challenges they experience often do not receive the attention and resources necessary to address them. The federal government declared November 11th as Veteran's Day, a chance to honor the service and sacrifice of our Veterans. Matching donations and fundraising for organizations that serve veterans is a powerful way to support these men and women and their families.
8. National Disability Awareness Month
To encourage individuals and organizations to become more understanding and supportive of those with disabilities, the United States celebrates National Disability Awareness Month in March. This month is an opportunity for companies to pay tribute to the accomplishments of those with disabilities and acknowledge their role in making our society better and more inclusive.
Empower your diverse & inclusive workforce ✨
DEI is not just about hiring people of different ethnicities, cultures, races, demographics, or religions. It's about cultivating a sense of belonging in your organization and creating a conducive environment for everyone to thrive. Goodworld offers a platform and creative ideas that help companies develop meaningful social impact experiences. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can amplify your DEI and ERG initiatives.
Ways to honor the culture and achievements of Black Americans this February
Reward your team for achievements, milestones, birthdays, and special occasions