Black History Month is a time for our nation to remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. As the 2018 observance comes to an end, I want to take a moment to explain why I believe it’s important to celebrate diversity.
Before I dive in too deep, I want to address the elephant in the room. I’ve been struggling to write this post for a few days. If it wasn’t the 21st Century, and I still wrote with a pen and paper, I’d have a few dozen crumpled up drafts scattered in and around the trash can in my office. I talked to several people for advice and read past transcripts of great speeches to get inspired, but everything I considered seemed off.
The problem was I wanted to write a blog post about what Black History Month means to me, and to my company, Dragon Army. I wanted to show that we believe in honoring and remembering the history of our African American teammates, family, friends and community members.
I wanted to illustrate that we’re a company with heart. That we challenge the small thinking that says one group of people is better than another. That we believe diversity is a source of strength, not a weakness. And, while Black History Month may shine a light on a divisive and disgraceful part of our nation’s past, it also brings to light wonderful stories and triumphs which should be celebrated and honored.
I’m white. For this reason, I’ve learned that there is no amount of reading, listening or thinking that I can do that will allow me to appreciate — or relate to — what it means to be black. I have lived a privileged life, and I recognize that. What I can say is that I believe it’s important to acknowledge this fact.
So, what do I believe? I believe it’s important to celebrate diversity (one of Dragon Army’s core values). It’s also important to recognize that there are advantages and disadvantages in this country related to one’s skin color — while also acknowledging how very unfair that is. And, while I know there are parts of our history that we might want to erase from our minds, we should never forget.
I believe there are some things we, as a conscious company, can do. We can make it a point to ensure our organization is diverse and that it's cherished for that diversity. We can work to expose our teammates to each other’s unique and wonderful cultures. We can have tough, open and honest conversations with one another to better understand and empathize.
A tangible action Dragon Army is taking to support diversity within the workplace is our commitment to hiring one of Georgia State University’s Minority Scholarship winners for the next three years.
We can also celebrate Black History Month! And, do our part as advocates for Dr. King's vision, as Dragon Army did this year by sponsoring Hands on Atlanta MLK Day.
At Dragon Army, we’re committed to doing our part to make the world a better place, and we’re open to ideas for how this collective group of dragons can celebrate diversity and inspire a little happiness along the way. We’re ready for the conversation, and we hope you are as well.
By: Jeff Hilimire, CEO of Dragon Army, @jeffhilimire