Our Partnership with NAAAHR-NJ is in full swing, so we asked their Board President, Vanessa Phipps, for some actions companies can take to recognize Black History Month. In discussion, Vanessa ーa leader, an educator, an advocate + avid supporter of Black business and entrepreneurshipー reminded us, first and foremost, that acknowledging the history of Black History Month is a great starting point. Here is a brief excerpt that sums it up from History.com: Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
The initial week-long event, which actually began in 1917, was designed to “serve as a way of infusing Black history into our national history in a way that there would ultimately be no need for it to be celebrated separately.” Vanessa further explained. It took until 1976 for the event to be formally recognized as the month-long celebration it is now. While our national history and Black history are inextricably linked, recognizing this isn’t always how American history is taught. There’s plenty of room for improvement in how we educate future generations about American history in school. The good news is that we can also find space to do so in business as well ー even if many years of schooling are long behind us.
Here are Vanessa’s recommendations for how your company can recognize and celebrate Black History Month at work:
Convene leaders to begin or continue discussions and make decisions around how more equitable practices could be employed to build diverse talent pipelines.
Consider launching a reverse mentoring program for Black employees that encourages their ability to mentor company leaders around their unique workplace experiences and to shine a light on their professional accomplishments.
Build participation in planning for Black History Month activities and programs by diverse teams of employees as a way to educate, collaborate, and celebrate the history and contributions of this country’s Black citizens.
Thank you to Vanessa for these thoughtful suggestions. How is your company recognizing and celebrating Black History Month this year? We’d love to hear about it! Questions for Vanessa or want to learn more about NAAAHR-NJ Chapter? Drop us a line here: email@example.com.