How to Celebrate Black History Month in 2022

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
February 14, 2022

Each year, many companies choose to honor and recognize their Black employees during Black History Month through different types of celebrations and events. With the right intent and strategy, an organization can create impact and engagement with its programming not only throughout the month, but all year long.

Creating meaningful programming for Black History Month requires seeking out multiple employees’ perspectives, planning well in advance, and having a sufficient budget and personnel resources to execute against the plan. Based on the traumatic events of 2020, organizations owe it to their employees to no longer take a surface-level approach to the month. They should use the month as a springboard for year-long inclusive action that aligns with their culture and diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

To get started, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for companies to celebrate Black History Month, sourced from 15 Black business leaders that contributed to our report, How Black History Month Can Be a Catalyst for Year-Long Inclusive Action.


Solicit employee feedback first

Engaging employees early and throughout the BHM planning is an effective way to promote participation and to make them feel like their voices are heard. With more ideas, voices, and perspectives included, the celebrations and programs will better reflect what employees want rather than what company leaders think is best. This will drive better employee engagement and connection to the events.

Some ideas generated from companies featured in our report include:

  • Virtual cooking classes led by employees featuring dishes from Black cultures around the world
  • Speakers with inspirational stories and unique perspectives to drive conversations on intersectionality
  • Playlists with music by Black artists for employees to contribute and listen to
  • A book club to read books and cultural works by Black authors and poets and to discuss issues related to the Black experience in North America
  • Examples include Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, All About Love by bell hooks, and literary works of poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright Langston Hughes.

It’s also helpful to turn to well-established companies, such as Google or Meta (Facebook), to get ideas from what they’re doing to best support employees.

Celebrate and have tough conversations

Making recipes, reading, and appreciating art from Black cultures and creators is joyful and uplifting. But it’s a disservice to only celebrate and sidestep the history of oppression that’s led to systemic disadvantages for Black Americans and Canadians.

Natalie Royer, a Belonging Consultant who helps organizations create safe spaces for BIPOC employees, explains why this acknowledgment is so important.

“I get feedback that Black employees do not see themselves as being seen, valued, or acknowledged,” Royer said. “It is my belief that this sub-human belief system is the legacy of slavery. Black employees are seen as both property and labor.”

Black employees have to prove themselves more than their non-Black colleagues because of implicit biases and the lasting sentiments of white supremacy, Royer added. Companies must recognize this disparity and act on it by supporting Black employees.

This can start during Black History Month and should extend to the entire year. Leaders can organize sessions and activities that speak directly to the Black experience at work by:

  • Sending and analyzing surveys from Black employees about their work experiences
  • Hosting an open forum where leaders receive feedback about workplace challenges
  • Presenting statistics on hiring, promotion, and other areas by race and discussing what needs to be improved

Support Black employees’ career development (then do so all year)

Black History Month is a great time to promote internal employee resource groups (ERGs) that support Black professionals, along with external professional organizations, like the Black Professionals in Tech Network.

ERGs help Black employees form connections across different departments and levels of an organization, and foster a sense of belonging. Meanwhile, memberships to professional organizations offer exposure to broader networks, as well as opportunities to get a mentor and to develop new skills. By allocating funds and resources for employees to obtain memberships and to create and lead ERGs, companies can meaningfully support their Black employees’ career development through effective means.

“Funding conference attendance is another potential form of compensation,” according to Harvard Business Review. “Conferences for Black employees, such as the National Black MBA Conference, AfroTech, or the Corporate Counsel for Women of Color Conference, provide Black employees a way to feel less isolated, develop their network, and receive leadership and development training that speaks to their specific experiences.”

Another way companies can bolster career development for Black talent is through mentorship or sponsorship programs specifically dedicated to Black employees. A strong network of support is essential to career advancement, and formalized programs help democratize access to mentorship.

February is just one month

The way a company celebrates Black History Month is a reflection of its broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Meaningful celebrations tie in with year-long efforts to improve workplace diversity, create a sense of belonging and support Black employees from hiring to promotions.

That’s why we put together the report, How Black History Month Can Be a Catalyst for Year-Long Inclusive Action. This comprehensive report details how organizations should celebrate Black History Month, strategies to support Black employees’ career development through mentorship and networking, and how to foster allyship in the workplace all-year long.

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How to Celebrate Black History Month in 2022

Each year, many companies choose to honor and recognize their Black employees during Black History Month through different types of celebrations and events. With the right intent and strategy, an organization can create impact and engagement with its programming not only throughout the month, but all year long.

Creating meaningful programming for Black History Month requires seeking out multiple employees’ perspectives, planning well in advance, and having a sufficient budget and personnel resources to execute against the plan. Based on the traumatic events of 2020, organizations owe it to their employees to no longer take a surface-level approach to the month. They should use the month as a springboard for year-long inclusive action that aligns with their culture and diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

To get started, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for companies to celebrate Black History Month, sourced from 15 Black business leaders that contributed to our report, How Black History Month Can Be a Catalyst for Year-Long Inclusive Action.


Solicit employee feedback first

Engaging employees early and throughout the BHM planning is an effective way to promote participation and to make them feel like their voices are heard. With more ideas, voices, and perspectives included, the celebrations and programs will better reflect what employees want rather than what company leaders think is best. This will drive better employee engagement and connection to the events.

Some ideas generated from companies featured in our report include:

  • Virtual cooking classes led by employees featuring dishes from Black cultures around the world
  • Speakers with inspirational stories and unique perspectives to drive conversations on intersectionality
  • Playlists with music by Black artists for employees to contribute and listen to
  • A book club to read books and cultural works by Black authors and poets and to discuss issues related to the Black experience in North America
  • Examples include Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, All About Love by bell hooks, and literary works of poet, social activist, novelist, and playwright Langston Hughes.

It’s also helpful to turn to well-established companies, such as Google or Meta (Facebook), to get ideas from what they’re doing to best support employees.

Celebrate and have tough conversations

Making recipes, reading, and appreciating art from Black cultures and creators is joyful and uplifting. But it’s a disservice to only celebrate and sidestep the history of oppression that’s led to systemic disadvantages for Black Americans and Canadians.

Natalie Royer, a Belonging Consultant who helps organizations create safe spaces for BIPOC employees, explains why this acknowledgment is so important.

“I get feedback that Black employees do not see themselves as being seen, valued, or acknowledged,” Royer said. “It is my belief that this sub-human belief system is the legacy of slavery. Black employees are seen as both property and labor.”

Black employees have to prove themselves more than their non-Black colleagues because of implicit biases and the lasting sentiments of white supremacy, Royer added. Companies must recognize this disparity and act on it by supporting Black employees.

This can start during Black History Month and should extend to the entire year. Leaders can organize sessions and activities that speak directly to the Black experience at work by:

  • Sending and analyzing surveys from Black employees about their work experiences
  • Hosting an open forum where leaders receive feedback about workplace challenges
  • Presenting statistics on hiring, promotion, and other areas by race and discussing what needs to be improved

Support Black employees’ career development (then do so all year)

Black History Month is a great time to promote internal employee resource groups (ERGs) that support Black professionals, along with external professional organizations, like the Black Professionals in Tech Network.

ERGs help Black employees form connections across different departments and levels of an organization, and foster a sense of belonging. Meanwhile, memberships to professional organizations offer exposure to broader networks, as well as opportunities to get a mentor and to develop new skills. By allocating funds and resources for employees to obtain memberships and to create and lead ERGs, companies can meaningfully support their Black employees’ career development through effective means.

“Funding conference attendance is another potential form of compensation,” according to Harvard Business Review. “Conferences for Black employees, such as the National Black MBA Conference, AfroTech, or the Corporate Counsel for Women of Color Conference, provide Black employees a way to feel less isolated, develop their network, and receive leadership and development training that speaks to their specific experiences.”

Another way companies can bolster career development for Black talent is through mentorship or sponsorship programs specifically dedicated to Black employees. A strong network of support is essential to career advancement, and formalized programs help democratize access to mentorship.

February is just one month

The way a company celebrates Black History Month is a reflection of its broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Meaningful celebrations tie in with year-long efforts to improve workplace diversity, create a sense of belonging and support Black employees from hiring to promotions.

That’s why we put together the report, How Black History Month Can Be a Catalyst for Year-Long Inclusive Action. This comprehensive report details how organizations should celebrate Black History Month, strategies to support Black employees’ career development through mentorship and networking, and how to foster allyship in the workplace all-year long.

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