DEI and Engagement: Recognizing Juneteenth and Pride Month

June 9, 2022 Scott Gillis

DEI and Engagement: Recognizing Juneteenth and Pride Month

The month of June is a big month focusing on inclusion in the workplace. We celebrate Pride all month long and June 19th is the celebration of Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture. For Pride Month, this celebration is a whole month dedicated to uplifting the voices of LGBTQIA people and celebrating LGBTQ culture and history. While both of these celebrations are extremely important in our personal culture they are even more important within the culture of the workplace.

Many companies have included committees and groups within their organization with the plan to better their internal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  (DEI) is vital to creating and maintaining a successful workplace; one founded on the principle that all people can thrive personally and professionally. With Juneteenth and Pride celebrations, DEI becomes a very important culture builder and measurement tool for employee engagement and appreciation.
 
To set the record straight, inclusion, although closely related to diversity, is a different concept. When we say “inclusive” it necessitates that everyone within an organization is treated fairly and respectfully and has the same growth potential, as well as unbiased and equal access to opportunities and development. Now translate that concept to the workplace. If I’m putting my heart and soul into your business, I want to be respected, admired for the distinct skills I bring to the table, and maybe even appreciated for being a little quirky. I want to know that when I’m up for a promotion, you look at me with an impartial eye. If I know you do these things on a daily basis, I’ll go home a happy employee. " Studies show that belonging is one of the most powerful predictors of DEI efficacy in the workforce. When employees feel that they truly belong at work, they feel more connected and committed. " ( source )
 
But it is more than just creating a group in the office to tackle these important subjects and it is certainly more than just checking a box for human resources. How does DEI in correlation to Juneteenth and Pride month affect engagement and the feeling of appreciation? There are 3 key bullet points to focus on when celebrating these two important events.
  1. Make it Personal: Awareness of both of these events, while important, is not enough. Personal action is an important enhanced step in this process. To take personal action, teammates and leaders should reflect and share how their personal and family histories, experiences, values, and identities connect to these events.
  2. Share employee stories: Involve your teammates in a round-table discussion about Juneteenth or Pride month. Give them the floor to share personal stories on how these events affect them and how it in turn shapes their mindset in the workplace. The simple process of being heard and being given the space to share personal stories (only if they feel comfortable doing so) goes a long way to not only shaping a companies culture but increases engagement as well
  3. Be Transparent: Share Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Use this day to be open with your workforce about any current or upcoming DEI initiatives you have in the works, whether it's unconscious bias training, equitable compensation reviews, or inclusive hiring practices. Share a demographic breakdown of your current staff and acknowledge those areas where you fall short and plan to do better.
While these suggestions aren’t exhaustive, they can help guide discussions around making the workplace more inclusive for all of your staff during these important cultural events. More importantly, adopting these suggestions allows an organization to support its diverse employees beyond the month of June. A key quote to remember when it comes to DEI initiatives is: "There is a statistically significant relationship between diversity practices and employee engagement at work, for all employees." ( Source ) Encourage autonomy, collaboration, and peer-to-peer recognition throughout your company to ensure universal empowerment. Make sure everyone’s voice is heard, ideas are acknowledged, and the appropriate resources to do a good job are always available.
 
For more in-depth reading visit these two great articles discussing the importance of Pride Month and Juneteenth in the workplace:
 
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