What are the best ways employers can celebrate Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) and increase their hiring and advancement of Native Americans and Alaska Natives?
To help you celebrate and improve your hiring initiatives this Native American Heritage Month, we sourced information from Native American/Alaska Native business leaders and DEI professionals. From learning more about contemporary Native American culture to going beyond to offer higher education investments, there are several key insights below that may help you increase your hiring and advancement of Native American and Alaskan Natives within your organization.
Here are seven ways these leaders recommend you elevate your hiring process this Native American Heritage Month:
- Look for Contemporary Opportunities to Learn More
- Participate in Promotional or Aid Programs for NA/AN
- Host Educational Trivia and Make a Donation
- Provide Traditional Leave to Support Tribal Heritage
- Create Relationships and Support Local Tribes
- Invest in Your Employee’s Higher Education
- Make an Inclusion Pledge Tied to Business Objectives
Look for Contemporary Opportunities to Learn More
It is essential to avoid celebrating Native American Heritage Month by perpetuating myths and stereotypes about Native Americans. Native Americans are still here, contemporary, and diverse, with 574 Federally recognized tribes across the US, and contributing to every aspect of society.
However, often achievements and representation are limited to the past. Look for opportunities to learn more about Native Americans of today, watch Reservation Dogs on Hulu, read books by authors such as Stephen Graham Jones, and learn about the issues affecting tribes right now, such as the Stop Line 3 movement.
With the holidays coming up, search for Native American-owned businesses to support. A few examples of websites for gifts include Eighth Generation, Birchbark Books and Native Arts, and Native Wisdom skincare.
Jennifer Wolf, Principal and Founder, Project Mosaic LLC
Participate in Promotional or Aid Programs for NA/AN
Consider donating to organizations and participating in programs or events that promote and/or give aid to Native American and Alaska Native (NA/AN) awareness, issues, and educational advancement. When trying to increase hiring and advancement of NA/AN be sure your advertisements include the NA/AN communities and social media circles. As the NA/AN community sees you at their events and supporting them, they will want to support you as well.
Chauma Kee-Jansen, Executive Director, American Indian Services
Host Educational Trivia and Make a Donation
We’ve found one of the best ways to celebrate heritage months is by doing an internal trivia event with our team. The trivia questions can be themed toward important Native American figures, traditions, and other elements. This format is an excellent balance of being fun and educational, which means your team can celebrate while also further developing their knowledge.
As an added bonus, the company can consider making a donation to a relevant nonprofit that is aligned with the theme of the month—in this case, Native American Heritage. Adding in that donation is a positive contribution your organization can make to the community and is a great way to show your people you care.
Grace He, People and Culture Director, teambuilding.com
Provide Traditional Leave to Support Tribal Heritage
Allowing Native Americans and Alaska Natives to feel appreciated for every part of them is important to the advancement of both the employees and the company. To let employees know that they’re appreciated and their differences are respected, companies will typically offer good pay, raises, or fringe benefits like paid vacation, but what you don’t see often outside of a tribal employment—if even there—is Traditional Leave.
Traditional Leave is similar to PTO or vacation time in that a set number of hours are given annually for the purpose of allowing Native American and Alaska Native employees to participate in ceremonies, cultural events, and traditional duties without digging into their vacation time.
Implementing Traditional Leave will show your employees, members of 574 federally recognized tribes, that you want to see them advance at work and outside of work; will allow them to stop choosing between surviving in the Western world and who they are.
Create Relationships and Support Local Tribes
Employers can connect with and support Native Americans in the workplace by collaborating with local tribes and Tribal Councils to create relationships to employ and invest in the local community. The best way to support any one of the first nations is to create an open dialogue on issues regarding employment opportunities, hurdles, and growth.
The disproportionate number of Indigenous people and high-level positions in the workplace can also be noted when working with a team adept in diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI teams should be created within companies which reflect their employee base.
Shannon Wingfield, Juaneño Band of Mission Indians Acjachemen Nation Tribal Council Member at Large, Founder, 3 Feathers Native American Marketing Agency
Invest in Your Employees’ Higher Education
I believe that one of the best ways for employers to increase the hiring and advancement of Native Americans, is to offer an “Enriched Education Stipend/Investment.” This would go beyond the standard tuition reimbursement, and would be a valuable investment in the employee’s education. While it would reimburse for coursework, it would also provide a financial incentive to the employee, in the form of a stipend.
Niko Cook, Talent Acquisition Leader and DEI Champion
Make an Inclusion Pledge Tied to Business Objectives
To me it is all about authenticity. Demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion by publicly recognizing diverse employees who rose to a position of influence within your organization and invite them to tell their story. Make a pledge tied to business objectives and proactively seek to include under-represented communities including Native American communities in your recruitment process.
PJ Aguilar Johnson, Director Sales Enablement, Ciena