Happy Black History Month!
This significant month has roots dating back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson — affectionally deemed the "Father of Black History" — proposed a national Black History Week. Woodson, the second Black American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University, wanted the week to be a time for young, Black Americans to learn about their history and heritage. Up until Woodson's educational initiative, it had been minimally covered in traditional school settings. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially announced Black History Month would take place every February — an expansion of the week Woodson founded 50 years prior.
We're proud to celebrate this historic month at Omnitracs. As part of our celebration, we're shedding light on the role all businesses — in the transportation world and beyond — can play in honoring Black history by pushing for diverse and inclusive representation in the present. Only then can we collectively ensure a prosperous future for all.
Historical diversity in the American workforce
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order deeming discrimination based on race, color, religion, or natural origin illegal for all in the armed services. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act made it illegal for any private or public business to use discrimination in their hiring or firing practices. These significant actions were made possible by the collective activism of Black Americans.
Today, nearly 60 years after the Civil Rights Act's passing, there is still much work to be done. The numbers from this extensive Mercer report confirm as much. This global report surveyed over 1,100 companies across the globe. In their findings, they found:
- Nearly 3 in 4 of the professional staff members were Caucasian
- Only 6% of women in executive roles were Black
- In North America, only 1 in 4 organizations had quantitative goals or targets tied to diversity and inclusion
Being a loyal ally is about listening, learning, and doing
Here's one more statistic for you — diverse companies perform, at minimum, 35% better than their counterparts. More representation on all levels means a better connection with the diverse people you serve and who make up our country and world.
Advocating for diversity in the workplace, however, isn't a simple, two-step process. Harvard Business Review recommends companies set goals, collect data, and examine change over time. With this methodical approach, leaders can maintain transparency and hold themselves accountable.
Having an inclusive business doesn't begin and end with hiring diverse talent. Primary emphasis should also be given to microaggressions against minorities in the workplace. Microaggressions are defined as instances of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. They can be highly common in the workplace and encompass everything from speaking over a coworker from a minority background to making seemingly subtle comments that reinforce harmful stereotypes. Companies who want to do better with diversity should ensure the diverse people they hire feel comfortable coming and staying.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion
At Omnitracs, we aim to celebrate Black history all year long by prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our organization — from increasing leadership representation by people of color to ensuring we have better gender distributions in the countries we are located. As our CEO, Ray Greer, said just last year, "Here at Omnitracs, we are committed to doing our part by continuing to build a culture that thoroughly supports and amplifies people of color."
We are proud to have a Black Employee Resource Community where we explore essential conversations about racial injustice and the ways we can strengthen inclusivity and belonging within our own community. Change begins at home. And if there's anything that history can teach us, it's that we can learn from the past to push for a future that is inclusive to all.
We wish all of you a happy Black History Month! For more reading, check out last year's blog post on Black History Month and the trucking industry.