Cultural heritage celebrations have become an important part of the fabric of organizational culture in recent years, representing an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the backgrounds and attributes that define who employees are.

In June, two of these celebrations are in the forefront. Caribbean Heritage Month which is focused on geographic association, and Pride Month which is focused on sexual orientation and association. 

Both of these offer opportunities for employees to share their own personal associations while also allowing an opportunity to recognize the associations of others, boosting inclusion, and understanding.

Pride Month

Pride Month is an annual celebration that recognizes and celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more (LGBTQIA+) community, raising awareness about their challenges, promoting equality, and showcasing their contributions to society. The “+” symbol has been added to the acronym to represent the expanding understanding of gender and sexual identities. 

Pride month is celebrated in June and was established in 1970 to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan which took place on June 28. Initially established as “gay Pride Day,” the recognition expanded first to a week (in March) and then, President Bill Clinton declared the month of June Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. President Obama, in 2011, expanded Pride Month to encompass the entire LGBTQIA+ community. 

The Stonewall Uprising occurred after police raided a gay club in Greenwich Village—the Stonewall Inn. The raid precipitated riots that continued over six days. What did rioters want? “The establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.”

Today, while many members of the LGBTQIA+ community continue to face prejudice and hostility, members of the group have come to be embraced by non-members in many circles—including the workplace. 

June is now a month where companies of all types and sizes take the time to recognize and support those in the community, raising awareness and driving increased understanding.

Caribbean Heritage Month

Caribbean Heritage Month is a different kind of cultural appreciation event. It honors the rich cultural heritage and contributions of the Caribbean diaspora, highlighting their traditions, art, music, and history.

National Caribbean Heritage Month is a newer entrant to the growing list of annual cultural celebrations, beginning in 2006, after the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) began leading activities in Washington, DC, in June, building on the efforts of a no longer active group that had initiated efforts to establish the month-long recognition in 1999. Efforts stalled a couple of times over the years until finally achieving formal recognition.

“In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution similarly passed the Senate, culminating a two-year, bipartisan, and bicameral effort. The Proclamation was issued by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2006.”

The purpose of the recognition is to honor the many Caribbean Americans who have helped to build the nation and its progress—including Vice President Kamala Harris (Jamaican), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Puerto Rican), and the late General Colin Powell (Jamaican).

Celebrating Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity

Commemorative events like Pride Month and Caribbean Heritage Month offer organizations an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of their organizations, and to further equality and inclusivity. These actions, of course, should be ongoing, but each event offers an important reminder of how the rich fabric of many aspects of diversity in every organization contributes to the organization’s culture and drives innovation.

We are all both alike and different. Coming together to share ways we’re alike while learning about and celebrating differences can help to build a stronger corporate culture—a culture that employees will find engaging and supportive. 

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