Why have Black History Month?
Or for that matter, any special designation for a group of people? Pride Month, International Women’s Day…? Are these events creating wedges between us and moreover, why do we as a business promote these occasions?
Some could argue that highlighting our differences further divides us. What purpose does Black History Month serve?
Two things we do know: racism still exists and separately; diverse companies do better over the long-term.
Events like Black History Month create an opportunity to educate people about our history and culture, highlight problems that still persist, celebrate those who have helped to move the needle and engage in a dialogue about how we can do better.
Racism is still an unfortunate part of society and while there has been improvement, we still have a long way to go to true equality. The racial wealth gap is growing and that sets up a system where minorities are at an unfair disadvantage in life from the outset. Being unable to financially invest in your children’s future sets up a systematic problem — income inequality will always lead to volatility. Black households make on average 16 times less than white households and Black and Latino families are less likely than whites to have a job that provides employer-sponsored health care, a retirement plan or paid time off. Persisting bias in the housing market, predatory lending targeted at minorities and failing schools in low income neighborhoods all contribute to creating an uneven playing field for future generations.
Knowing these facts and coming to terms with where we are failing is the first step towards improvement.
Going back to the second point….why does a business like Thomson Reuters care about Black History Month? We know that diverse organizations succeed better over the long-term, generating better value for shareholders. Diverse teams are more likely to share new insights and drive innovation. Millennials want to work for companies with a diverse workforce and therefore it becomes a motivator for recruitment.
An event like Black History Month, which raises awareness and creates a dialogue around delicate issues, helps to break down barriers and ultimately eliminate bias. It helps diverse teams interact better by understanding new points of view and supporting others’ thoughts and ideas. It helps to eliminate unconscious bias in recruiting and leads to a better talent pool. By confronting inequality and bias head on we help to negate racism and inequality. Last, it provides an opportunity for reflection. Seeing where we are succeeding and where we could do better helps to keep us accountable and ultimately progress in the future.
Celebrating our differences is a wonderful part of our corporate heritage as an organization that was global before global was a thing.
It will continue to be one of the pillars that gives us a competitive advantage in the long-run and that, is why we will continue to promote Black History Month.
At Thomson Reuters, we all have a shared responsibility to do business in ways that respect, protect and benefit our customers, employees, communities, suppliers and environment. This responsibility informs everything we do to support Our People, Our Markets and Our World.