If you’ve ever been part of a service – or social justice-oriented community, you may have heard the phrase “a day on, not a day off” to refer to Martin Luther King Day. This adage is a reminder of the fact that January 17th is not only a commemoration of Dr. King’s impact, but a federally-recognized day of service.
Whether or not your workplace has the day off, if you’re working in an HR department in some capacity, you may be interested in making Dr. King’s birthday “a day on” for your employees–especially if Diversity and Inclusion are a priority for your company. Even if you’re a recruiter, it’s important to remember that your role is interconnected with your workplace’s inclusivity and connection to your community.
According to DEI expert and Talenya advisory board member Michelle Shelton, companies with an inclusive workplace culture will draw in more diverse talent through the testimonials of current employees. Doing service work in your local community is a great way to show your employees that social justice is important to you, and to make potential hires within the community familiar with your organization.
Most DEI experts agree that effective DEI efforts must be part of a holistic approach that includes the wider community. It isn’t enough to search for more diverse talent at the point of recruitment; the workplace itself needs to be welcoming so as to retain this talent and involved in the community so as to understand what challenges minority talent might face.
This means being aware of social issues affecting your employees, and speaking out in support of social justice when you can.
Observing the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service can help raise awareness of these issues within your workplace; it’s also a great way to show that you’re serious about your values through action. Most importantly, of course, giving back to your community is simply the right thing to do.
There are lots of great resources for getting involved in your community. As DEI recruiters and HR personnel, setting up volunteer opportunities or learning opportunities for employees can help you be more aware of the challenges facing people you’d like to recruit, and more attractive to minorities at the hiring stage. Part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is our collective responsibility as Americans to work toward an equal and equitable society. DEI recruitment and hiring is one essential piece of that goal, so community service in Dr. King’s honor is a perfect way to advance his legacy within the HR field.