Meeting in a Box: Black History Month

January 21, 2014 11:30 pm
Black HIstory Month

Thurgood Marshall; Carolynn Johnson, COO, DiversityInc

This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to all employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

While the contributions African-Americans have made to the United States—and the unbearable hardships they faced—should be noted all year round, Black History Month is the perfect time for your company to educate your employees. For Black History Month, we are giving you this valuable tool showcasing Facts & Figures demonstrating the increasing importance of Blacks in the United States, a historic Timeline, and our “Things NOT to Say” to Blacks, which is a valuable cultural-competence training tool. This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your Black resource group and diversity councils all year round.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

1. Historic Timeline

We recommend you start your employees’ cultural competence lesson by using this historic Timeline. The unique history of Blacks in the United States is the clearest indication of evolving human-rights values and represents a moral and economic battle that split this nation. The remarkable progress of African-Americans is a testament to the power of democracy, culminating in the nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama. The timeline shown here illustrates significant dates in U.S. Black history and major historic figures.

Discussion Questions for Employees

Black History Month started in 1926. Is it still relevant to have a monthly celebration?
Your guided discussion should focus on the many contributions Blacks have made to U.S. history (see http://www.history.com/topics/black-history-month) and the continued debate about whether one month is sufficient. Beverly Robinson, President of the National Civil Rights Museum, notes: “Instead of Black History being recognized one month out of the year, it’s something that needs to be recognized throughout the year. And I think [Black history museums] are particularly significant because you must remember that so much African-American history, so much history about the civil-rights movement and the accomplishments of African Americans, are not studied in our schools.”

What instances of racism have you seen in your life and in the workplace?
Ask the employees, both Black and non-Black, how they felt when they heard/saw racist comments or incidents. What repercussions and actions, if any, occurred?

Why are “firsts” important to note? What other barrier breakers have you witnessed in your lifetime?
This is a personal discussion designed to help the employee note other barrier breakers historically (cite Barack Obama and Black CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, available at http://www.diversityinc.com/fortune-500-ceos/). This discussion can be further explored after the Facts & Figures section below is discussed.

Black History Month Timeline

CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

2. Facts & Figures

Review available data and understand areas where Blacks are making significant progress in the United States and where major opportunities remain.

The data we have chosen to present here represents information of relevance to corporate America, such as education (available labor pool), buying power (emerging consumer markets) and progress in gaining executive and management positions. Where applicable, national data is compared against DiversityInc Top 50 data, to show what progress the leading companies are making.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What does it take to move into the senior-executive pipeline at your company? Do you think it’s important for younger managers to have role models who look like them?
Discuss the role of resource groups and cross-cultural mentoring in developing and retaining talent, and what employees see as the best ways to increase the pipeline.

The Black community represents an increasing share of the consumer marketplace. Whether your company is B-to-B or B-to-C, what efforts are you undertaking to reach Black consumers or clients?
Discuss how critical it is to have client/customer-facing staff members who mirror the communities. How active are your resource groups in community, marketplace and client outreach?

Black History Month Facts & Figures

CLICK ON IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

3. Things NOT to Say to Blacks

Our popular “Things NOT to Say” series includes these interviews with Black executives from different generations about offensive phrases they’ve heard on the job and how best to respond to them to further cultural-competence education.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other phrases have you heard addressed to Blacks and others from underrepresented groups?
Discuss why these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity. For more information on this topic, go to http://www.diversityinc.com/atwg-oxford-dictionary/ and http://www.diversityinc.com/atwg-black-friends/

What role do you think the company should play when offensive comments occur?
Have the employees talk about under what circumstances they would report offensive comments and what they believe the company should do. Get advice from at http://www.diversityinc.com/atwg-offensive-language/

After today’s lesson, what would you do if you overheard a colleague make one of these comments?
Continue the discussion with each employee having a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

Things NOT to Say to Blacks

CLICK IN IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

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