Diversity and inclusion professionals face many challenges, from insufficient budget to C-suite support. But one of the greatest challenges of all is fostering awareness, respect and inclusion on an ongoing, daily basis.
Traditional diversity training can be highly effective and useful. But when given quarterly or annually – or perhaps just for new hires – inclusive concepts and behaviors often fade from memory, especially as time goes on.
In my conversations with diversity and inclusion leaders, one of the best ways to instill ongoing awareness and respect is through the promotion of diversity heritage months.
Over the course of year, there are hundreds of heritage months. Dozens of these are specific to diversity; for a complete list please view our online diversity calendar.
Some of the key diversity heritage months include:
- African-American History Month – February
- National Women’s History Month – March
- Older Americans Month – May
- Jewish-American Heritage Month – May
- Pacific-American Heritage – May
- LGBT Pride Month – June
- National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month – Sept. 15-Oct. 15
- Diversity Awareness Month – October Diversity Calendar
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month –
- National Italian American Heritage Month – October
- National American Indian Heritage Month – November
There are powerful benefits to celebrating these heritage months in your workplace. First, it helps promote diversity an inclusion on an ongoing basis, throughout the year. Furthermore, heritage months helps recognize individual diversity groups, and specifically celebrate them, rather than simply promoting general diversity awareness.
So how do you celebrate heritage months, and leverage them to create more awareness and inclusion?
Diversity Calendar – first, be sure to offer a diversity calendar throughout you are organization. These calendars are available either online, or printed. Typically, a diversity calendar will feature a specific heritage as its monthly theme.
Employee Newsletters – in your newsletters to employees, be sure to feature these heritage months, as banners or graphics, and link to additional information on the topic.
Email Signature – every month, you’re likely sending thousands of emails. Each email is a great opportunity to foster awareness. In your email signature, include a link to this month’s featured heritage month.
D&I Portal – if your organization has a D&I portal on its website, add a banner celebrating the monthly diversity theme. If your organization does not have a portal, you need to add one…
Employee Events – at company events, you can feature the monthly diversity theme. A popular way to do this is with food recipes that might celebrate a particular culture. Our online diversity calendar features such recipes.
Printed Materials – in your office, have banners, posters and more that also highlight a particular diversity theme. Any piece of paper that is distributed to your employees – from memos to paychecks – provides an opportunity to instill awareness.
Training for diversity and inclusion is essential for a harmonious, productive workplace in the 21st century. And inclusion is most effective when instilled throughout the year, rather than just at on-off trainings.