Illustration of a calendar

For any municipality new to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, it can be hard to decide where to begin. Programming or policy, internal efforts or external, the answer could be all of the above as long as you actually take action and start!

As the DEI strategist for Concord, North Carolina, USA, I was tasked with expanding and maintaining a cultural and recognition calendar to:

  1. Inform our internal team about the range of holidays that uplift various cultures.
  2. Acknowledge the hard work of every team through targeted shoutouts during worker appreciation periods.

Our public affairs (PA) unit asked department heads to consult their teams for celebrations they would like to see acknowledged on such a calendar. I also added additional cultural considerations and PA added more worker appreciation moments. We then decided that I would do all internal postings about cultural recognitions and PA would do all external postings across both the cultural (with my input) and worker appreciation categories.

Worker appreciation posts typically include a picture of my colleagues in their respective office/site or in action with a huge note of appreciation. These posts generate high interaction across our social media platforms. Internal cultural recognition postings live on our intranet and are only accessible to colleagues. Using Canva, I design appealing graphics with the most informative and pertinent details. For instance, in April, we are acknowledging NC Second Chance Month with a coinciding learning and development workshop focused on hiring and housing. The graphic includes logistics about the event, facts about the community, and a call to show support.

I am able to track the calendar’s effectiveness by seeing who shows up to events, requesting anecdotal feedback from colleagues at all training sessions, and soliciting additions to the calendar in the fourth quarter of every calendar year.

Admittedly, creating a cultural calendar is for organizations still early on in their journey. And there are many reasons why a municipality may opt not to commit to following a cultural calendar because of the likelihood of overamplifying particular cultures and/or neglecting others. In fact, an article from Axios, “Avoid Corporate Platitudes during Cultural Heritage Months,” does a great job reminding us to avoid certain pitfalls. It is not enough to have a social media post or proclamation if our everyday practices do not show a true commitment to embracing the diversity in our communities.

Striving to be inclusive and to ensure our efforts extend beyond quick catchphrases, we opted to move forward with the calendar because we recognize the employee learning and morale that it could generate. I strive to make sure the calendar is as inclusive as possible. I encourage our entire team to uplift all the cultures that make up our community year-round. I am also acutely aware that passive programming like a social media post is not as engaging as active programming, and it certainly does not always have the large impact of a policy change or culture shift.

As far as a place to start, the cultural calendar is one option that has to be weighed by your organization for possible strengths and challenges. When done effectively, the calendar serves as a great learning tool and introductory point into the much-needed DEI conversation.

Headshot of Jaime Brown


JAIME BROWN is the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist for Concord, North Carolina, USA.


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