Celebrate Black History Month with more than surface-level company initiatives

Group of black people around a conference table

3 mins, 58 secs read time

It’s Black History Month, a time to reflect on all the accomplishments that the people of the African diaspora have made throughout history. Although we should always be cognizant of Black contributions, this month is also a great opportunity for sharing and teaching cultural acceptance, which can lead to a more inclusive and productive workplace.

Perhaps your company has hosted a potluck or posted about Black History Month on social media (which are both great ideas) to show solidarity – this post will help you delve one step deeper, to make actionable, high-impact changes at your org.

Source from diverse candidate pools

Whether it’s Black History Month or any other month, it’s imperative to think about the ways we can support Black talent in any industry. When sourcing candidates, the status quo is not enough. Being on the recruiting team, I always try to think outside of the box and get creative. In this day and age, social media can be a great tool for tapping into networks that we may not know how to find in person.

When I first started at Greenhouse, I was eager to share new job opportunities through any platform I could think of, but I also wanted to be intentional about sharing roles with other Black people in the tech industry. Twitter and hashtags like #BlkCreativesJobs and #BlackInTech allowed me to get those roles in front of people who may not have seen the job otherwise. That allowed Greenhouse to reach a wider audience and find other candidates looking for similar opportunities (and resulted in some really great new hires!). It’s so important that they see you.

Create and advocate for Black ERGs

It’s not enough to bring Black talent in. You need to think about what you’ll do to get them to happily stay. At their core, employee resource groups (ERGs) are communities at work where the participants share an identity. Having a space that allows employees to share knowledge with and support other employees like them is often directly tied to their happiness and feeling of belonging at work. It also gives employees a platform to elevate voices that may not be heard otherwise. Being a part of our ERG, Blackhouse, has made me think more about how we can continue to support and drive the mission and values of our company while also uplifting our own.

While ERGs are led by members of the community, it’s easy to feel like they are doing the work alone. To combat this, HR and leadership teams should actively support the events of ERGs by promoting them on social channels and, most importantly, by showing up. After building a relationship with the ERG, it can also be a great resource for diversifying candidate pipelines and sharing new job opportunities with underrepresented groups.

Don’t forget about distributed Black employees

While there are many advantages to being a distributed employee, there can also be a sense of exclusion from everyday occurrences. If your organization has an event for Black History Month, or anytime throughout the year, it’s important to think of ways to include the people who work outside of the main office.

Here at Greenhouse in NYC, we’ve collaborated with volunteers and allies in Denver and San Francisco to ensure that livestreams and panel recordings are set up so anyone can tune in. Additionally, those folks are championing an end-of-the-month party that will align with ours in NYC.

Always listen and continue to grow

It’s important to recognize that, even if your company is already doing things like these, there’s always room to grow – and you’ll want to keep the pulse on employee sentiment in order to figure out areas of improvement. We love using an employee engagement survey tool like Culture Amp, which allows us to understand how efforts are going, and our execs host company-wide “Ask me anything” meetings to discuss results in a raw, candid way. This type of transparency may scare most companies, but it has made me proud to work at a place that I can actively see is trying to improve.

In addition to listening, follow through. I was excited by the fact that I brought important Black tech events such as the AfroTech conference to leadership’s attention and was then able to attend, which had an incredible impact. Attending, bringing back learnings and knowing that I had the support of my team truly made me feel valued, energized and included.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to celebrating Black History Month, but if you want to find and support Black talent, you’ll need to always strive for improvement.

Ready to get started? Learn about how cloud-native software platform company Pivotal took on the task of implementing new initiatives into their D&I strategy in this eBook.