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Jun 15, 2022

Know Better, Do Better: Why Only Celebrating Diversity in February is Dangerous

by LeTeisha Newton

As we’re focusing our corporate social responsibility lens on Diversity and Inclusion during the same month we recognize Juneteenth, it seems like an opportune time to speak about the dangers of companies blending Black History Month with Diversity initiatives. Black History Month started in 1915, 50 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The initiative was spearheaded by Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland. Even so, it wasn’t until 1976 that US presidents started to recognize Black History Month annually. The history of diversity and inclusion in the workplace first emerged in the 1960s, as training in response to affirmative action and equal employment laws. While, yes, it was in response to systemic racism, discrimination, and de facto regulations, these two initiatives operate in separate spheres. Primarily, Black History Month is targeted towards promoting the betterment, research, and acknowledgement of African Americans in the world, versus diversity and inclusion’s focus on regulation, policies, and corporate governance for all protected classes to be integrated and work together. Knowing why we’re here #MeToo. #BlackLivesMatter. #StopAsianHate. #StopAAPIHate. #StandWithUkraine. #PrideMonth. These movements are more closely related to diversity and inclusion as opposed to Black History Month. The ease, however, of attaching the importance of diversity and inclusion into Black History Month and highlighting it largely in that month alone is a separatist way of thinking that goes against the ideals of both. To be clear, Black History Month shouldn’t be the only time that the plight of African Americans should be visible. […]

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