Native American Heritage Month, observed every November, presents a significant opportunity for corporate social impact professionals to reinforce their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
It is a chance to craft impactful initiatives and strategies that honor Native American heritage, promote awareness, and foster positive change within the company and the broader community.
Native American Heritage Month gives corporate social impact professionals a chance to discuss the alignment between Native American Heritage Month and CSR & ESG principles, including conservation, racial equity, and education.
This is also a time to highlight the importance of cultural sensitivity and responsiveness and consider ways to engage with underrepresented communities, including:
Collaborating with Native American Communities:
- Advocate for building authentic relationships with Native American organizations, leaders, and community members.
- Share some of our examples below of successful partnerships that have had a positive impact on Native American communities.
Supporting Educational Initiatives:
- Highlight the value of promoting education about Native American history and culture.
- Suggest strategies such as sponsoring workshops, seminars, or scholarships that focus on Native American studies.
Amplifying Indigenous Voices:
- Provide platforms for Native Americans to share their stories, challenges, and aspirations.
- Recommend hosting virtual or in-person panels featuring Native American thought leaders and activists.
- Discuss the significance of targeted philanthropy that addresses the needs of Native American communities.
- Educate on the importance of representation on staff, especially in CSR & ESG
Promoting Cultural Exchange and Learning:
- Propose initiatives that encourage employees to engage with Native American culture, art, and traditions.
- Offer suggestions for organizing art exhibitions, film screenings, or cultural workshops.
Addressing Historical Injustices and Current Challenges:
- Acknowledge the historical injustices faced by Native American communities and the ongoing challenges they encounter.
- Advocate for CSR & ESG initiatives that work toward rectifying past wrongs and advocating for social and economic equity.
Measuring and Reporting Impact:
- Highlight the importance of setting measurable goals and tracking the impact of Native American Heritage Month initiatives.
- Discuss ways to effectively communicate the outcomes of these initiatives to internal and external stakeholders.
Companies Making a Difference:
- Nike’s N7 Collection: Nike created the N7 Collection, a line of athletic apparel and footwear that honors Native American heritage while also supporting Native American and Indigenous communities. A percentage of the proceeds from the N7 Collection sales go towards initiatives that promote physical activity and wellness among Native American youth.
- Google’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day Logo: Google changed its homepage logo to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day during Native American Heritage Month. This recognition raised awareness about the historical and cultural significance of this day.
- Microsoft’s Native American Employee Network: Microsoft established the Native American Employee Resource Group to celebrate Native American culture, provide networking opportunities, and raise awareness about Native American issues. The group hosts events, discussions, and educational sessions throughout the month.
- Bank of America’s Native American Art Exhibit: Bank of America hosted an art exhibition featuring works by contemporary Native American artists. The exhibit was open to the public and provided a platform for these artists to showcase their talent and culture.
- Walmart’s Supplier Diversity Initiative: Walmart highlighted products created by Native American-owned businesses in its stores during Native American Heritage Month. This initiative aimed to support Native American entrepreneurs and raise awareness about their contributions to the economy.
- IBM’s Native American Hiring Initiative: IBM announced a hiring initiative during Native American Heritage Month to recruit more Native American professionals. This initiative focused on promoting diversity within the company and providing career opportunities for Native Americans.
- Southwest Airlines’ Cultural Awareness Campaign: Southwest Airlines ran a social media campaign throughout the month, sharing educational content about Native American history, culture, and traditions. The campaign aimed to raise awareness and promote cultural understanding.
- REI’s Outdoor Education Workshops: REI hosted outdoor education workshops in collaboration with Native American outdoor enthusiasts and educators. These workshops combined outdoor activities with discussions about the importance of preserving natural spaces and respecting Indigenous land.
- Coca-Cola’s Native American Art Bottle: Coca-Cola released a limited-edition bottle featuring artwork by a Native American artist. The bottle design celebrated Native American culture and served as a collector’s item.
Native American Heritage Month is a time of reflection, education, and action for CSR & ESG professionals. By integrating Native American heritage into corporate social impact strategies, companies can make a meaningful impact on both their own organizational culture and the communities they serve.
This November, let’s strive for authentic engagement, thoughtful initiatives, and a lasting commitment to advancing the well-being of Native American communities through responsible corporate citizenship.