February is Black History Month — a time when we reflect on all of the contributions Black Americans have made throughout the country’s history, to celebrate Black American culture and achievements, and to acknowledge how much work we still must do to end systemic racism and inequality.
This Black History Month is particularly important amid growing calls for social justice. Last year, many companies responded with commitments to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. This February is an opportunity for employers to show how they’re fulfilling those commitments to achieving diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace, in how they do business and across their communities.
Here’s how several employers are celebrating Black History Month, and how they’re being honest about their pasts, being transparent about where they are today and sharing the specific actions they’re taking for the future.
1. UPS: Highlighting their company’s Black history
UPS wrote a book entitled Black Voices from Big Brown: Untold Stories of African Americans at UPS. The story begins with Ken Jarvis, the first recorded Black driver who was also the first to enter corporate level management. Ken is also credited with mentoring other Black and racialized employees to help create a path to success. The book is also accompanied by a multimedia initiative that includes video stories and a podcast.
More importantly, this initiative doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the company’s past discriminatory actions and shows how they are working towards becoming a champion of diversity and inclusion.
2. Microsoft: Amplifying Black voices
To honor Black History Month, Microsoft is using its blog to amplify the stories of its Black employees and highlight those who are making their mark within their company and industry. The twist? The stories are not your typical “I love working here because” — but rather, they talk about real life experiences of Black people — from redefining colonized beauty standards to solving sustainability issues to promoting inclusion in sports.
The content is real, raw and vulnerable. It helps their employees to understand the experience of their Black peers and how they can become better allies in and out of the office.
Proudly, we amplify the voices of those whose experiences motivated their present actions to build a better future for generations to come. We do this – not just because this is #BlackHistoryMonth but because change is happening, and Black History is now. https://t.co/aPcsfhRcys pic.twitter.com/qrqauzWOtX
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) February 1, 2021
Microsoft highlights stories of its Black employees in blog posts that are focusing on real life experiences in a raw and vulnerable way.
3. Netflix: Committing to transparency
Netflix recognized that the best way to have diversity on-screen is to have diversity in their office. That’s why they created an inclusion report to provide a snapshot of representation within the company, how they plan to increase it and how they cultivate a community of belonging and allyship. The report is published quarterly on their careers site.
And to take these insights to the next level, Netflix created a short film to accompany the report. This level of transparency shows employees and candidates a genuine commitment to building an equitable workplace, and meets the company’s audience where they are — watching videos.
Netflix’s short film accompanies their inclusion report published on their careers site quarterly.
4. Salesforce: Educating through events and guest speakers
To kick off Black History Month, Salesforce’s Boldforce employee resource group (ERG) organized a conversation between civil rights activist and author DeRay McKesson and the ERG’s president, Lola Banjo, to discuss the evolution of the civil rights movement and how DeRay uses his platform today to help drive systemic change.
The Boldforce employee resource group at Salesforce organized a conversation with civil rights activist and author DeRay McKesson.
The event was also opened up to the public so that Salesforce’s customers and broader community could benefit from hearing the conversation and hopefully spark conversations of their own.
5. NASA: Sharing the stories of Black employees
NASA’s Black History Month landing page is intended to amplify Black voices and share the rich legacy of the Black pioneers and innovators who have shaped science and exploration throughout the organization’s history.
The landing page has a visually appealing layout filled with photos that click through to employee stories that highlight the specific achievements of Black employees past and present.
6. Dentsu: Taking action toward anti-racism
Dentsu is emphasizing action, in addition to celebration. They created a calendar to encourage their team to read, watch, listen, learn, share and celebrate with one another by completing a daily micro-action throughout Black History Month.
7. Etsy: Showcasing Black-owned businesses
Another way to celebrate BHM is to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, an estimated 41 percent of Black business owners closed their doors between February and April of 2020 according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This number is twice the decline experienced by White business owners. That’s why Etsy is using their platform to showcase, celebrate and uplift the talents of Black independent creatives and shop owners in their community.
This is a slightly different approach than our other featured employers because Etsy is highlighting their sellers instead of their employees. However, I love this because it helps expand the sellers’ visibility and puts dollars back into the Black community. Not only that, but the page also shares the stories of Black business owners, which will hopefully inspire other aspiring Black creatives and innovators to launch their own ventures!
How is your employer celebrating Black History Month? Contact Us to add your examples to this blog post and share your DEI commitments with the Rally community.