February Diversity Message
February marks several countries' major holidays such as Mexico's Constitution Day on February 5th, Japan's National Foundation Day on February 11th, and, of course, the United States Presidents' Day on February 20th. Buddhists who follow the Mahayana tradition mark the death of Buddha in 483 BCE and Hindus honor Vasant Panchami that indicates the arrival of spring.
Additionally, Black History Month is an annual celebration of the often-overlooked contributions of Black Americans to American life, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Many activities focus on the past - schoolchildren learn about poets, jazz singers, and civil rights leaders, while families visit history museums or watch documentary specials. For example, Langston Hughes was born on the first and Frederick Douglas was born on the 14th. Marion Anderson who was the first African-American to sing at the Met in NYC was born on the 17th, and W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the founders of the NAACP was born on the 23rd.
However, Black history doesn't only belong to the past, and it isn't only for kids.
If you are in a position of power, such as a CEO, manager, or HR professional, challenge yourself to honor Black History Month in a way that will improve diversity and inclusion in your organization all year round. It has also been the month to learn about, celebrate, and incorporate elements of diversity often overlooked in the workplace. And perhaps the most important element of any company celebration, including and especially that of Black History Month, is the power of one.
Although group activities should be encouraged and can create cohesive learning experiences, it's important not to forget the influence that each person has. It doesn't matter whether you own the company or work for the company, being more tolerant of others and actively encouraging inclusion is something you can do right now-you don't have to wait until a group activity is organized. And if this kind of attitude is encouraged throughout an entire group or company, the power of one will be amplified, making the workplace a more collaborative and exciting place to be.
Simple but effective ways individuals can celebrate Black History Month include sharing a relevant screensaver slideshow to be used on PCs or any cafeteria or reception screens; or displaying posters or magazine and newspaper articles of famous African Americans. One could also post on a shared space a timeline of significant historical events; photographs of significant African Americans such as Jackie Robinson or Billie Holiday, along with their major accomplishments; or a gallery of the most recent Black History Month Hero Nominees chronicling the significant contributions they have made to our lives. Other heroes and heroines that could be spotlighted include Bessie Coleman, a pioneer of aviation, born in Texas in 1892, who set an example for all other aviators to follow; Elijah McCoy, the son of Kentucky slaves who went on to invent a labor saving self-oiling lubricator, the lawn sprinkler, and the folding ironing board; and Doris Miller, the mess crewman in the Navy during WWII whose story of bravery and valor was dramatized in the film Pearl Harbor.
Indeed, Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the great people who have helped grow a great nation. It's also an opportunity for coworkers to become more unified in the workplace by celebrating the accomplishments of these great people.
Thanks to Scott Cullen-Benson for partnering with me on this month's message! - Carole Hoffman
Address: 400 E. Randolph #3725, Chicago. IL 60601
Phone: +1 (312) 756-7756