This February marks Black History Month -- an annual coast-to-coast celebration that recognizes and honors the significant contributions Black Americans, past and present, have made to advance U.S. society and culture.
This tradition began in 1926 with historian Carter G. Woodson, who wanted the Black experience to be rightfully told in American history -- when it wasn't at that point in time. What began as a one-week commemoration has expanded into the month-long celebration we join in today.
When our nation was engulfed in one of the largest calls for social justice last year, employees within organizations felt compelled to speak up and companies were prompted to reflect on the changes necessary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Real change takes time; it doesn't happen overnight. But what's important is if the change is taking place to begin with and, above all, that it's meaningful.
At Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), we're harnessing the power and pervasiveness of our out-of-home (OOH) media to celebrate cultural moments and milestones, like Black History Month. While, internally, we're building a roadmap of diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives to engage and support our employees in purposeful ways. As a member of CCO's Executive Diversity Advisory Council (EDAC), I'd like to share some of the steps we're already taking in our journey to drive change in our own communities and, ultimately, foster diversity of culture and thought in our organization.
Honoring Black History, Celebrating Inspiration
Throughout this month, we're highlighting quotes by known, and not so well known, Black Americans, that embody the spirit of hope, healing and unity we strive for in our society and at CCO. These messages are displayed against a symbolic backdrop of red, green and black across our national digital displays.
In partnership with EDAC, these twelve individuals were thoughtfully selected not only for their inspiring words, but for their pioneering work in their respective fields and activism:
As a big fan of quotes, myself, I particularly resonated with the following words of Amanda Gorman, which she spoke at this year's presidential inauguration for a recitation of her poem "The Hill We Climb."
When hearing this line, I think about the courage it takes to challenge yourself and see the things you perhaps didn't see before. Ultimately, that helps you recognize the work you need to do in a specific area – a step forward in the right direction.
Driving Change at the Core
The EDAC has already made some progress mapping out CCO's D&I journey. To start, our group has moved forward with completing an assessment to measure each member's openness to D&I and identifying a training partner, as well as online training, to raise D&I awareness across the company.
A few months ago, we rolled out a survey designed to receive feedback from our employees on key D&I initiatives they would like to see CCO take on. Those were eventually broken down into three pillars: Workforce, Workplace and Marketplace.
Based on the results in each area, we'll prioritize and implement D&I company-wide initiatives that matter most to our employees. The next step is to look at how we can carry out those initiatives externally through the use of our medium. A part of that is aligning with organizations working on causes that affect the lives of those within the communities we serve.
We're now at a place where we need to move beyond only seeing others based on commonalities. We need to also embrace the differences each of us bring to the table. I believe this will be the evolution of D&I in workplaces moving forward.
An Inclusive Future
While this month is dedicated to commemorating the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history, our commitment to uplift, support and learn more about our communities of different cultural backgrounds is a year-round effort. And with the growing digital and creative capabilities of OOH, there's opportunity for us to explore how we can create even deeper connections among people who already see the messages on our media in ways that spark long-term impact.
Celebrating Black History Month is just the start of a path in building a more inclusive future where our employees, partners and communities can collectively thrive.
We'll continue to further amplify our campaign across our own social media channels through February, so every quote featured is seen in its entirety by our online viewers, in addition to our offline ones.
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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.