Lesson Four - Use your strengths to add value to Black History Month
If an organisation picks up the phone to a Black person and asks, “What should our business do this Black History Month?” then they are missing the point. Every business should be focused enough on its own strategy, values, resources, platforms, products and services to be able to work out what it can offer Black communities, rather than the other way around.
WHAT BLACK HISTORY MAKERS SAY:
“A lot of organisations forget what they’re good at during Black History Month. Remember your area of expertise and utilise that.” - Rhammel O’Dwyer-Afflick
“Consider what you have access to and what you can utilise in the service of a social movement, a service of inclusion. What is actually feasible and what are the opportunities?” - Greg Bunbury
“Provide opportunities for Black people. If you don’t feel best placed to create initiatives for yourself, hand over your resources to people who can.” - Tanya Compas
WHEN IT’S DONE RIGHT:
Gap partnered with four up-and-coming Black artists from across the globe and released a collection of T-shirts. Featuring creatives from the UK, France and the US (Mario Hounkanrin, Melissa Hurst, Lo Williams and Stephennie Factor) each design represents what Black history means to them from their life experiences.
WHEN IT MISSES THE MARK
In Cambridge, St Catharine’s College and Churchill College are both flying flags in celebration of Black History Month. Churchill has flown the Pan-African flag, and Catz has chosen to put up the flag of the Bahamas, in memory of their first-known Black student.
WHAT WE SAY
What Gap did was make use of its existing resources and platform to amplify Black talent through its campaign - simple but effective: a fashion brand, a fashion collaboration. Whilst Cambridge colleges flying the flags isn’t all that bad, the move failed to provide any opportunities for existing or prospective Black students - there’s simply no action that helps the Black community. It’s a surface-level activation, unlike Gap’s which is having an immediate impact. - Lornette Harley, Client Consultant