This week marks the start of Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the significant accomplishments Black Americans make in the United States. While awareness around these contributions is important, this month can – and must – be much more. Celebrations ring shallow without action on pressing problems. This is a critical moment for organizations to live their values, turning promises for diversity into decisive, meaningful actions that build a more inclusive workplace.
What Lucas Group is Doing Differently This Year
Last year, Lucas Group committed to being proactive and purposeful in our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. This is a crucial reason why I was excited to join Lucas Group last fall as its new Chief People Officer. Recently, we added an inclusion statement to our company mission, vision and values. We advocate diversity, we are open to all thoughts and perspectives, we engage and strengthen all communities that we serve, we treat everyone equitably and consistently, and we create equal opportunities for development.
While codifying inclusion into our guiding principles is an important first step, actions are always louder than words. This means not sitting on the sidelines but using our voice and position to support our internal employees, partners, and greater community. These are steps we’re taking to celebrate Black History Month and to continue making high-impact change throughout the year:
Celebrating contemporary trailblazers. In addition to well-known Black History Month figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and John Lewis, we’re shining a light on the trailblazers making a difference in our communities right now. This includes influential business leaders, like Walgreen’s CEO Roz Brewer, currently the only black female Fortune 500 leader, as well as innovators, educators, entertainers, military heroes, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners. This also includes black organizations like sororities, fraternities, and HBCUs. With our teams working remotely across the country, we’re raising awareness about these groups through a company-wide trivia challenge and weekly spotlights. While there’s much to celebrate from our past, we also want to highlight the leaders moving us forward.
Amplifying our team’s philanthropic efforts. In addition to recognizing the achievements of contemporary trailblazers, we’re highlighting our own employee’s philanthropic efforts. Our Community Captains are sharing how employee leadership is making a difference in the communities we serve. For example, Tara Martin from our Houston office is a passionate volunteer. She’s committed to furthering OperationBigBookBag, a program supporting at-risk school-aged children through her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.’s. She’s also a leader in our Houston office’s volunteer partnership with the Houston Foodbank and has been instrumental in adapting these efforts for COVID. Our Community Captains are passionate about coordinating efforts, like Tara’s, at a local level to make a direct impact in the communities we serve.
Renewing our commitment to hiring diversity. As recruiters, we act as gatekeepers for our clients. As my colleague Marc Wilder noted last year, we’re on the frontlines, deciding who does – and who doesn’t – get recommended for a role. This powerful position comes with great responsibility. At Lucas Group, we have access to tremendous talent networks. This month, we’re taking a step back, asking, “How can I leverage my networks to connect with top performers I might otherwise have missed? How can I better champion my client’s efforts for diverse hiring?” A client’s hiring options are only as diverse as the candidate list we present; it’s on us to be the change. This also starts with taking a hard look at our own approach to internal hiring and promotion– how can we be more inclusive and expand opportunities for advancement?
I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male, I come from a very privileged position, and for years I was blind to the realities that my colleagues faced. I also know our efforts to celebrate our diversity and create a more inclusive company require continuous growth and improvement. My team and I are committed to doing the hard work to improve our approach and ensure everyone feels comfortable sharing their candid feedback and suggestions. We want every employee to feel their voice is heard and valued.
As our President and CEO Randy Marmon recently shared, we must “set aside time this month and every month to study and understand the issues that people of color continue to face. Together, we can change the world one conversation at a time.”
How is your company marking Black History Month this year? I invite you to share your approach in the comments below.