Black History Month: How to celebrate your teams remotely

'Black employees are underrepresented – especially in positions of leadership'

Black History Month: How to celebrate your teams remotely

February marked the start of Black History Month – a time dedicated to celebrating and uplifting Black employees in your organization. HRD spoke with Tamisha Parris, founder of Parris Consulting, who revealed the best ways HR leaders can celebrate this year’s Black History Month – and explained why 2022’s celebrations are more important than ever before.

“2020’s events, from COVID-19 to the murder of George Floyd, led to a global racial reckoning which caused a surge in the desire for corporate DEI strategies, policies, and procedures alongside customized tools and resources to be implemented,” she told HRD. “Since then, we’ve seen an uprising backlash that has led to the silencing of Black educators, Black curriculum, the banning of important books in schools and from libraries, and the removal of documentaries and movies in an attempt to ‘hide’ our past? This year it is even more critical that we not only celebrate Black excellence this month but also that we bring awareness to the tactics being used in order to silence it.”

A recent poll from KPMG Canada found that while the majority of Black Canadians believe their employers are doing their best to stamp out systemic racism, more is still to be done. Despite the good work, just 35% of those surveyed said organizational changes had improved their career prospects. The challenges Black employees face everyday range in scale and severity – however, as Parris told HRD, a lot of it stems from sheer underrepresentation.

“Black employees are underrepresented – especially in positions of leadership,” added Parris. The rise of microaggressions in the workplace is something Parris has spoken to HRD about several times. Having penned a whitepaper in conjunction with UKG on the very matter, Parris has some advice for HR leaders looking to stamp out overriding prejudices in the modern workplace.

“Eradication of racism and discrimination must be a joint effort between the government, organizations, educational institutions, individuals, and any potential impactful others,” she advised. “HR bodies should take it upon themselves to do their part. Be accountable to what is happening within your organization, ensure DEI strategies are implemented, evaluated, and updated as needed, work with problematic repeat offenders (personnel) and shift towards an inclusive environment and continue to work at educating your employees.”

Make this Black History Month count – not just through February but through 2022 and beyond. For HR leaders looking for some fun and authentic ways to celebrate with your employees – be in remotely or in person – try some of the following suggestions;

  • Hire a Black speaker
  • Distribute links to reliable, educational websites and resources
  • Hold a virtual watch party
  • Amplify Black voices
  • Book (or article, white paper, educational tool, etc.) Club
  • Share educational resources and hold discussion groups around them
  • Hire a consultant to facilitate a workshop, webinar, or interactive conversation
  • Hold a virtual cultural cooking class
  • Give employees an opportunity to share
  • Celebrate Black excellence all year round

How are you celebrating Black History Moth in your organization? Tell us in the comments.

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