6 Black History Month Activities for the Workplace [2024 Update]

group of casual diverse employees laughing outside

Black History Month can be recognized practically anywhere, including in the workplace. With some planning and effort, your organization can honor the month and make a positive difference today.

If you're looking for Black History Month activities for the workplace, ADP's Black and African American business resource group (BRG), Cultivate, has you covered.

"We encourage leaders to celebrate Black History Month in ways that make sense for them and their organizations," says CT Mobley, division vice president, sales, Small Business Services, diverse business channels, ADP. Mobley also serves as president of Cultivate. "That said, by sharing some of Cultivate's ideas, we hope to ignite action, drive inclusion down to the individual level and be a source of creativity, engagement and inspiration. Always be inclusive, seek employee input and recruit the right experts to ensure you're hosting a meaningful, supportive celebration."

Get ready for February with these six Black History Month activities inspired by ADP's Cultivate BRG:

1. Analyze the impact of Black art

Identify works of art created by, influenced by or featuring Black talent and discuss their impact on the Black community and other communities. Choose from various options created by, or with contributions from, Black actors, directors, instrumentalists, singers, songwriters, filmmakers, photographers, painters, authors, poets, architects and sculptors. Partner with experts in HR, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and history in your network and local community to provide meaningful analyses and context. Ask for employee support with inclusion in mind and without forcing participation.

For example: In a previous Black History Month panel featuring cast members from "A Different World," Cultivate analyzed the show's impact on higher education in the Black community. Additionally, Ángel Cabrera, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), discussed making higher education more accessible to underrepresented groups (URGs).

Ask yourself how you can use these activities as inspiration for your 2024 Black History Month celebration.

2. Ask your head of DE&I to discuss progress

When planning Black History Month activities for the workplace, it's crucial to prioritize inclusion while recognizing progress and giving employees a voice. One way to do so is by asking your head of DE&I or HR to update your organization on the actions it has taken to support its Black employee base and how these actions have benefitted the community, other communities and the organization overall. You could also discuss how diversity has benefitted your organization. Be inclusive by gathering questions from your employees in advance, consulting your BRGs for assistance if possible. Then, during the update, an interviewer can pose the questions to your head of DE&I. Executing the event this way may help facilitate an inclusive forum where employees can engage with leadership and feel seen, heard and valued.

"We think it is extremely important that we not allow our inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging efforts to linger in the background of our associates day to day but rather ask for them to be active participants in the company's initiatives and to be vocal supporters," Mobley says. "That means we, as leadership, have to be transparent and provide the 'why' for our actions and simultaneously take feedback on those actions from our people to further refine our efforts and get to an output that is full of the intended spirit, impacts the target audience and builds in cohesiveness that can only be achieved through strong, inclusive engagement."

3. Spotlight business success stories

Ask Black entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs and other Black business leaders to discuss their journeys, accomplishments and educational and professional backgrounds. Consult your local community and network, presenting the opportunity as a commitment to bettering your organization's allyship. Speakers can be in your industry but don't have to be. Furthermore — and perhaps most importantly — this event can have the added benefit of promoting Black-owned, Black-founded and Black-led organizations and of spotlighting success stories that may inspire your employees to seek professional development. To be as inclusive as possible, be sure to include speakers who've enjoyed traditional and nontraditional academic achievements and career experiences.

For example: During a previous Black History Month celebration, Cultivate discussed traditional education, nontraditional education and career possibilities. Mobley hosted the discussion, and Rick Wade, senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach, United States Chamber of Commerce, discussed his journey as a student at Harvard University and presented the state of Black business in the U.S. Additionally, Lavera Coleman, CEO of FlyBoss, and Jalen Uboh, CEO of JUBOH Companies, discussed the experiences that led to their achievements.

Are these activities generating inspiration for your 2024 Black History Month celebration?

4. Reach across multigenerational lines

Consider hosting a multigenerational roundtable led by Black professionals within your organization. You can center the discussion around career journeys, how formal and informal education has helped the participants navigate your workplace, how specific challenges and obstacles have been overcome and how your organization has provided support. Encourage participation across locations if you have them. Career heroes and role models can be based out of both organizational headquarters and branch locations. They may be more willing to be involved than you think. As always, partner with HR and DE&I experts to ensure the discussion is supportive and inclusive.

For example: For its 2024 Black History Month celebration, Cultivate will host a panel featuring rising Black ADP associates discussing what they've done to get where they are. The discussion will conclude with a presentation on career-related resources that ADP offers. During a previous Black History Month, Cultivate hosted a similar roundtable, allowing ADP associates from various generations to discuss their career journeys in front of a live associate audience. The panel included leaders from employment tax services, change management, sales and product inclusion.

Ask yourself if you can put similar activities to work for your 2024 Black History Month celebration, and read Support Your Multigenerational Workforce with Thought-Provoking Conversations for more on multigenerational collaboration.

5. Hire a musical guest

Hiring a musical guest can be a great way to bring joy, camaraderie and entertainment to your Black History Month programming. Consider hiring a local Black artist, band or group that matches the tone and theme of your celebration. Music can be a powerful experience, bridging gaps between people of all backgrounds and creating a palpable sense of community, so choose a guest who can help you achieve this goal. Make sure to provide a safe and welcoming space for the performance and encourage all employees to celebrate together. This activity can be a memorable and fun way to honor Black History Month in the workplace.

For example: For its 2024 Black History Month celebration, Cultivate will present a selection from the Spelman College Glee Club. Spelman College is a global leader in educating women of African descent, and its glee club is the premier performance organization for the college and sings for most campus events.

Could you host a similar event for your workforce? Could you record the performance for your employees to watch again and again?

6. Commit to (or strengthen) DE&I

Black History Month is a time to honor the past, present and future. You can help support authentic workplace progress by ensuring URGs know that they belong, feel valued and appreciated, are represented in leadership and are paid equitably. Consult DE&I experts at your organization or work closely with a DE&I-focused partner to commit to each area.

For example: During a previous Black History Month celebration, Cultivate featured members of ADP's executive committee and Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Belonging (IDEB) in a roundtable addressing where ADP stood as an organization, where it was going, how it was progressing, timelines and how the Cultivate BRG helped. The conversation supported Cultivate's year-in-review of Black history and DE&I, using the following pillars: attracting and retaining talent, improving culture and belonging and facilitating economic empowerment.

Ask yourself what your commitment to DE&I looks like as you celebrate Black History Month 2024.

Beyond Black History Month

Black History Month can motivate leaders to demonstrate appreciation for Black employees, but support shouldn't be restricted to one month. Read How Organizations Can Demonstrate Dedication to Black Employees Year-Round for more on this topic. Additionally, start thinking about strengthening and maintaining DE&I in your workplace. At ADP, DE&I starts — and progresses with — inclusion.

"At ADP, we lead with inclusion to ensure we provide a workplace where everyone can feel valued, appreciated and celebrated," says Tiffany Davis, chief inclusion and diversity officer, ADP. "One month is not enough to celebrate the differences and to demonstrate appreciation for our Black employees. We choose to celebrate them and all our associates every day."

For more on strengthening DE&I, visit ADP's DE&I Resource Hub.

The Cultivate BRG is this article's chief source of creativity and inspiration.

Cultivate promotes the professional development of ADP's Black and African American associates and their allies. The BRG inspires, empowers and encourages its members through career development, education, mentoring and networking initiatives and fosters inclusion at ADP by serving as an agent of change. As of January 2024, Cultivate is 3,400 members strong.