What is Black History Month 2022 and why celebrate it?

August 19, 2022
September 12, 2022

Drawing inspiration from the United States, Addai-Sebo led the creation of Black History Month here in the UK. The inaugural UK event took place at County Hall in London on October 1st, 1987. From these roots, it has gone from strength to strength and has flowered into a national movement. It has become a major fixture in the British calendar. Today, Black History Month 2022 celebrates the history, culture and achievements of British people with African and Caribbean heritage. The movement has helped establish inclusiveness within British society. Many UK businesses place it at the heart of their diversity and inclusion training policies.  

What Are the Aims of Black History Month UK?

Britain is a very diverse and multicultural country. Wherever you might live in the UK, you will meet people with heritage from all over the world. Everywhere you go, you see shops, taste foods, hear music and experience a wide variety of cultures. But despite the huge role Black people have played in creating the Britain we know today; their contribution has often been overlooked or deliberately ignored. Black History Month seeks to celebrate and recognise these accomplishments while educating people of all backgrounds across the UK. It also aims to challenge discrimination and racism everywhere. It also lobbies government, businesses and institutions to support and implement equality and diversity policies.

Why We Should Celebrate It

Black History Month is a celebration of diversity. It shows that whatever our background, we have all contributed to the country we see around us today. When we’re educated about diversity, we understand that there are differences, but that we are all connected. And learning about these connections helps to unite us. We go beyond the history we were taught at school. We learn about the impact that black people have had on our lives. Black History Month creates a space for everyone to learn about our real, shared history. We are all citizens of the world – so black history is everyone’s history. With the Windrush scandal and the death of George Floyd laying bare the presence of institutionalised racism across the world, embracing Black History Month 2022 is more important than ever for us all.

Why Businesses Should Celebrate Black History Month

Every business should have a meaningful diversity policy and EDI training. It informs a company’s approach to discrimination and enables them to practice inclusiveness. A great diversity policy will help to create the ideal modern working environment. It promotes inclusion and respect, while tackling discrimination or bullying of any type. A key part of this is to recognise and celebrate inclusive events such as Pride Month, Mental Health Week, International Women’s Day and Black History Month.

Companies are only as successful as the people behind them. Not only are companies with diversity and inclusion policies and practices happier places, but they are better businesses too. A series of recent studies have proven this. They make better and faster business decisions. They produce more cashflow per employee and are 120% more likely to hit financial goals!

Whatever the size of your business, you should embrace Black History Month, even if black employees only make up a small amount of your staff. Businesses play a huge role in society. By committing to celebrate Black History Month in your diversity and inclusion training, you’re creating a safe space for dialogue on race and identity. Through education and the sharing of stories, you’re not only helping to make your workplace better, but you’re making society better too.

How Businesses Should Do It

Thousands of businesses celebrate Black History Month every year. Yet many HR departments or smaller companies can struggle with how to best do this in their organisations. To get the best out of it, it needs to be done well. It’s such a good thing to do for all sorts of reasons, but to work it needs to be much more than a box-ticking exercise. It’s all about creating an authentic and trusted mechanism that staff will believe in. It also needs to communicate your values to your customers and partners. Here’s how you should embrace Black History Month in your diversity and inclusion training.

Engage all your staff

This isn’t just for your black employees. While you want to ensure they feel empowered and supported, you are also educating all other staff too. Everyone needs to be part of it, from organising events to participating! A great way to involve people can be to set up a committee from all parts of your company to get everything planned and completed.

Have leaders communicate messages

Inclusive values need to come from the top. Make sure leaders and managers within your company communicate your aims and values for Black History Month regularly and consistently.

Support charities that work with Black communities

There are so many national and local causes that can be supported. A wonderful way of helping people while communicating your values – both during and after Black History Month.

Create a place and a time for your employees to learn

We learn by doing. Although they mean well, too many diversity and inclusivity training programmes are dry, dull affairs that end up ticking boxes. You need to provide a space where employees can come together, share stories and experiences and ask questions in a non-judgemental environment. With dialogue comes learning and understanding.

Keep doing it!

Black History Month 2022 is a perfect time to begin your diversity and inclusion work. But don’t let it end there. Continue to champion and promote inclusiveness through the year.

Each October, Black History Month takes place in the UK. Over 30 years ago, campaigner Akyaaba Addai-Sebo was determined to tell the story of the wonderful contributions to cultural, political, and economic life Black people living in Britain have made.
MCE Staff