Black History Month & HR: Moving Beyond Highlighting Towards Action

Angelica PatlánBy Angelica Patlán

One of the most powerful actions for change is to turn the gaze inward.

Non-Black HR professionals must celebrate our Black colleagues' contributions and achievements—but our work isn't done at the end of 28 days or with a post. The work is 365 days per year.

We must begin by looking into the HR profession itself

Why? Because we cannot change the workplace until we change the disparities within our discipline:

  • According to Data USA (2018), only 13.3% of HR professionals are Black.
  • As we go up the HR ranks, only 6% of CHROS are Black, according to The Cornell Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (2010)
  • With the impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown women, these numbers may be even lower.

HR professionals: Race & Ethnicity

Moving the HR needle forward

While highlighting and celebrating are important, they do not take the place of tangible action to move the HR needle forward:

  1. Collect more recent data around representation within HR. Most studies are several years old.
  2. Share the mic and be aware of who is amplified or silenced within HR platforms.
  3. Conduct pay equity studies within the HR profession at all levels.

HR must move beyond highlighting and celebrating

We must be a discipline of action not only during Black History Month but beyond. I'll also point out that there aren't a lot of studies out there about this. Most are older, which is super telling.

About the Author

Angelica Patlán is an HR Coordinator for Assemble HR Consulting. She holds an M.S. in Human Resource Management and uses her nontraditional background (former 911 dispatcher) and Anthropology major to inform her HR approach. Each Saturday, Angelica and Tiffany Castagno co-moderate "Let's Talk HR" on Clubhouse at 11a PT / 2p ET. She currently resides in the Bay Area with her partner and two dogs. 

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