July 26, 2022

Tips on how your tech startup can celebrate Black History Month

To celebrate US Black History Month this February, technology giant Apple is launching curated collections and exclusive content to shine a spotlight on the amazing work of black creators, developers and entrepreneurs. From the Apple Watch Black Unity Collection to a celebration of black stories on Apple TV, the tech icon is paving the way for other brands to highlight black excellence. 

If your tech startup is looking for practical ways to amplify black voices and pay homage to black history, check out these fantastic BHM campaigns and find inspiration to truly celebrate the month in style.

Examples of BHM activities from leading tech brands

Google is well known for supporting diverse causes around gender and race so BHM was no exception. Last year they launched #TheMostSearched campaign “celebrating the icons and moments that have been searched more than any others in the United States.” By using Google Trends data, they scanned the most searched people to identify Black American achievements that were searched more than any others. The resulting emotive ad featured icons from black culture including Prince, Martin Luther King and Simone Biles.

Social media platforms TikTok and Instagram both partnered with leading black influencers to share black stories. From IG Lives spotlighting inspirational black icons to high profile ad campaigns celebrating black personalities, TikTok and Instagram ensured they gave space to talented black creators making waves on social media.

How your company can celebrate Black History Month

So how can ordinary tech employers join in the celebrations this February? There are plenty of quick and easy wins that don’t require big budgets:

  • Hire black speakers and pay them fairly for their time: If you truly want to shine a light on black achievers, make sure you invite them to speak and pay them equitably. Too often companies will expect black leaders to speak for free and if payment is involved, people of colour are typically underpaid. Show speakers you value their time and expertise by ensuring they are paid fairly. Colorintech’s founder Ashleigh Ainsley is a proactive example of this in practice. He is being paid to speak at the upcoming Inclusion In Tech Festival where founders can gain practical advice on black inclusion. Hear him speak on the Ethnicity in Tech: practical steps for your organisation’ panel discussion on 25th February.
  • Amplify black voices within the workforce: Take time to highlight black employees who are making moves within your company. Invite them to share their stories on your company blog, social media channels or newsletter. This is a great way to put a spotlight on the great work your black employees are doing and allows the entire workforce an opportunity to engage with them in a more personal way. Follow the lead of social media giant Facebook who encourages black staff to consult on content policies and recommend black creators to be featured on their platform.
  • Partner with black-owned companies/suppliers: Put your money where your mouth is and use a black catering business for your next big corporate event or treat employees at Christmas to products from black entrepreneurs. 
  • Support a charity focused on racial justice: Whether you give time or money, there’s plenty of ways to support organisations on a mission to tackle racism. Encourage staff to volunteer their expertise e.g. developing a new website for a social organisation free of charge or host fundraising events like workplace bake-offs to donate to a charity.
  • Bring in diverse team members to help shape campaigns: If your company has internal workplace networks for black employees, give them the resources or budgets to lead on any BHM activities. Make sure they are at the table when you are developing any marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools to host BHM events properly.

Perhaps one of the key takeaways when celebrating Black History Month is making sure you don’t limit your celebrations to one month a year. Avoid performative allyship where your business only participates in BHM for corporate gain rather than actually supporting the black community. If you are going to take the time to embark on a BHM celebration, make sure it’s genuine and that your business is present and actively involved all year round. 

Written by Letitiah Obiri, Founder @ Polkadot Digital