Google will update the image on its homepage; your colleagues will create posts on LinkedIn featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks; and you’ll wonder how your business fits into this scene.
After the year we’ve had, many are eager to celebrate Black History Month, but they’re wondering how to create meaningful campaigns.
While there are no formal guidelines for celebrating, here are a few things for business owners to consider from a PR and diversity perspective
Understand that Black History Month is a time dedicated to actively highlighting African American’s contributions to America (hint: they’re endless). This should be celebrated in conjunction with your daily, ongoing commitment to building a true culture of diversity and inclusion. Celebrating Black History Month can’t be the extent of your DEI plan.
While Black people showed resilience, strength, and innovation during the period of American slavery, don’t feel the need to limit the spotlight to slave narratives this month. The Black experience is rich and expansive. If you’re at a loss of where to start, the next tip is for you...
Try to make connections between this month-long celebration and your industry. If you’re in photography, why not bring awareness to Black people who’ve made history in the field? If you’re in advertising, highlight memorable campaigns created by Black Americans through the years.
Tread lightly when asking your Black employees to contribute to your BHM campaign. If you keep them in the background from March through January but ask them to be featured on your public platforms this week, it is performative, transparent, and it reveals that you still have work to do in dismantling the systems of white supremacy at work in your business.
If you have to pull stock images of “diversity” to create content this month, this should indicate the lack of actual ethnic diversity in your business. Just saying.
Think twice about any team activities you have planned to honor this month. Be sure that in your attempts to honor Black history, your activities are not offensive, demeaning, reductive, or laced with stereotypes. When in doubt, just avoid it altogether.
Fearing “cancel culture” and being too scared to “get it wrong” is no excuse to avoid acknowledging Black history this month. Educate yourself, make use of all the resources available to you, and step into your responsibility as a business owner to make sure yours is a space where Black people’s contributions are elevated and appreciated… three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
With a little thoughtfulness and intention, you can create a campaign that is relevant, timely, and meaningful in timely. Remember, at the end of the day, this should be an extension of your existing, ongoing commitment to elevating Black voices in your business.