Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate, recognize and elevate contributions Black people made and continue to make worldwide. Unfortunately, while Black history is American history, often it is siloed and erased from school curricula.
Yet knowledge of Black history helps communicators and others better understand the present and create opportunities for an equitable future.
For organizations and brands, this means developing or bolstering knowledge of the Black experience. This can strengthen connections with Black consumers, stakeholders and the wider community.
In addition, understanding Black history will result in greater engagement, as well as increased trust and purchase consideration from Black consumers, who are evaluating which brands to support.
Here are ideas that can help develop a year-round approach.
Conduct 3-6-5 Engagement
A strong commitment to the Black community should link your organization’s business strategy with diversity and inclusion. For example, help ensure the C-suite champions DE&I. Your company’s DE&I effort should not fall solely on the HR or DE&I teams. Second, advocate for development of realistic, measurable DE&I outcomes. Such goals should contribute to the organization's broader objectives.
It’s clear the most impactful campaigns are rooted in long-term allyship. This includes having multiple touchpoints with Black stakeholders throughout the year, not just during a heritage month. From social media to grassroots initiatives, volunteering and mentorship, there are many ways your campaign can come to life and engage the Black community regularly.
When commitments are meaningful and real, it's easier to show accomplishments. Move beyond touting DE&I awards. For instance, integrate DE&I during hiring and on-boarding processes. As communicators work across the organization, you can integrate DE&I everywhere. This includes showcasing DE&I on your organization's website. Make it clear how you approach driving DE&I and include examples of success.
Spotlight DE&I in internal and external messages. Coordinate content with leadership and employees to tell authentic stories. Leverage social media channels to bring them to life.
Amplify Intersectional Black Voices
Diverse voices are integral to engagement. Championing those who live at the intersections of overlapping systems of privilege and oppression, companies can ensure they are advocating for Black voices that societal inequalities impact disproportionately.
As noted above, go beyond Black History Month and tell Black stories throughout the year. These include intersectional LGBQT+ stories during Pride Month and Afro-Latina stories at Hispanic Heritage Month.
Recognize America is Majority Minority
The 2020 Census showed the U.S. shifting to a new general market. This market is inherently culturally diverse and isn't accounted for in some multicultural marketing approaches.
To navigate this landscape, companies must make a renewed, continuous effort to understand culture and how it can influence everything from frontline employees to boards of directors.
Build Third-Party Credibility Through Partnerships
Companies taking steps to engage the Black community long-term should consider partnering with racial justice groups whose goals include driving change.
Sabrina Browne is VP, corporate, BCW