CEO Insights

Why you should intentionally hire black speakers throughtout the year

Rahkim Sabree

In honor of Black History month many organizations are looking to hire Black speakers to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion while acknowledging the one month during the year that celebrates Black history. Although well intentioned, this behavior may be perceived as disingenuous for several reasons. Here are 5 reasons why you should intentionally hire Black speakers throughout the year.

Black History is American history 

During most Black history celebrations companies often dust off their list of famous inventors, entertainers, and celebrities who have pioneered in spaces that impact virtually every aspect of our experience today. While I do agree that it’s important to acknowledge the contributions to society that come from the great minds and bodies of Black people, I don’t believe that that acknowledgement should be reserved to the shortest month of the year. Certainly we don’t only use those inventions, products, services, or entertainment contributed to our society during the month of February therefore we should honor and celebrate those contributions year long. I’ve participated as a speaker and attendee in many Black history month events and two things are consistently true; the attendees are mostly Black and the speakers are putting so much energy and effort into educating a non Black population that is mostly disinterested as evidenced by their lack of attendance.

We Have More To Offer Than A History Lesson

Black people are innovating and those of us who choose to share our gifts by speaking have more to discuss than the history that’s led us here. Many times the celebration of Black history is reliant on storytelling around the overcoming of trauma associated with a painful past full of mistreatment, abuse, and exclusion among other atrocities. Having to explore that trauma even if it didn’t happen to us directly takes a toll on us for the sake of “education”. These stories are well documented and should be researched and taught independent of celebratory efforts associated with Black History month to make room for us to share thought leadership , experiences, and accomplishments not tied to that trauma.

We Deserve To Get Paid 

Our expertise is not limited to our experience as Black people. There are innovators and experts in the fields of technology, finance, media, and virtually every other vertical in existence. Madison Butler, founder of the Black Speakers Collection has compiled a list of Black speakers that provides speaker matching for any event. Organizations should be intentional about sourcing and paying Black speakers throughout the year; and not at a discount. Our perspectives, experiences, and delivery not only provide a unique version of the story we tell but also serves as means to demonstrate representation in leadership to your Black employees who aspire to reach the pinnacles of success and can identify with the overcoming of obstacles that your speaker has. Representation at all levels of leadership and in all areas of professional expression matters.

It’s Aligned To Your Diversity Statement

 If your organization claims to be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion then this is a no brainer. What better way to demonstrate your commitment than to allocate budgeted dollars to Black speakers? Reserving the selection and hiring of Black speakers for Black History month can be viewed as an empty gesture and can leave a bad taste in the mouths of your Black employees. Hiring Black speakers throughout the year not only reinforces your commitment to DE&I by putting your money where your diversity statement is, but can build an ongoing relationship with a variety of Black speakers so that when Black History month rolls around, you won’t have to scramble to find talent.

Your Sponsorship Amplifies Our Voices 

When you hire a Black speaker you are paying them for their service both financially and by way of sponsorship. We can take the experience of speaking for your organization and use it as a way to get in the door with other companies of similar size and industry. By acknowledging that we have worked with your company (hopefully with glowing testimonials) we can establish credibility with other companies that may make them quicker to trust or more willing to work with Black speakers based on our track record. Exposure alone is not an acceptable form of compensation, but tied into the speaker’s fees and coupled with a testimonial can make all the difference in our next opportunity.

Written by Rahkim Sabree.

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Rahkim Sabree
Rahkim Sabree is an author, speaker, and financial consultant who focuses on helping entrepreneurs and business leaders optimize the financial future of their employees.

Rahkim Sabree is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.