In the last few weeks, issues of racial injustice have been all over the news, and may be happening right in your neighborhood. The death of George Floyd is just one of many recent incidents that have issued a wake-up call to Americans on the subject of inequality. Now, many business owners and employees are asking: What can we do to help? How can we become more inclusive, more sensitive, and more empowering of people of color in the workplace?
We’re definitely at a unique moment in history. At CaterSquad, we hope to use this moment for good. We’ve rounded up 5 suggestions for celebrating racial and cultural diversity and elevating the voices of people of color at work.
1. Try a diversity potluck
Food is foundational to culture. Everyone has favorite dishes that remind them of their family or represent their cultural background. Bring this delicious diversity into the workplace by hosting a lunchtime potluck. Invite employees to bring a food that holds special meaning to them, racially or culturally. Then make time for everyone to share about the significance of the dish.
2. Hold a cooking demo
To delve a little deeper into the food-as-culture concept, consider a rotating employee cooking demo. In this lunchtime event, individuals can not only explain a food’s importance to their heritage, but actually show others how it’s made. By the end of a year of monthly demos, you might even put together a cookbook of the recipes featured. (And of course, be sure to compensate employees for their time and ingredients used.)
3. Seek to educate
Food isn’t the only representation of culture (though it may be our favorite). There are so many stories to be told—both inspiring and disheartening—about the experiences of people of color. Allow your employees of color a time and space to educate others on what it’s like to live in their skin. Perhaps a lunch and learn simply involves inviting co-workers to tell their own stories of discrimination or triumph in the face of difficult odds. Alternatively, try bringing in a speaker who can address the invisible (and sometimes very obvious) barriers people of color face every day in the workplace and other settings. A little bit of education can go a long way toward increasing compassion and understanding among the group.
4. Support a minority organization
Whether during the holidays or Little League season, there are always opportunities for businesses to support charitable organizations. For your next company giving project, why not select a nonprofit that benefits minorities? Charity Navigator can help you find an organization that’s a good fit, showcasing categories like community development, civil rights, and health.
5. Create a suggestion box
We all want to be heard—but sometimes it’s difficult to speak up in the workplace. An anonymous suggestion box can be a helpful way to allow everyone to say their piece without fear of judgment. Try setting up a box in a common space. Here, employees can write down their own ideas for creating a more inclusive working environment. Who knows what innovative ideas come through? Make this an ongoing project, and be sure to follow through with suggestions you receive.