One consultant says these campaigns are informing employers’ strategic decision-making, while another stresses the importance of ensuring employees understand the reason for marking these occasions.

Michelle Grocholsky, founder and chief executive officer, Empowered EDI

Many employers are aligning these monthly campaigns to support and advance strategic diversity, equity and inclusion actions.

For example, employee storytelling campaigns that highlight different religious and cultural practices can effectively lay the foundation to introduce flexible or floating holidays and to reinforce an organization’s accommodations processes.

Read: Truth and Reconciliation: Employer awareness growing but more action required, says expert

Recognizing dates of significance, such as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Black History Month, can build awareness to underpin an organization’s efforts to advance reconciliation through scholarship programs or to address anti-Black racism in performance management practices. In short, communications and celebrations of this nature centre the value and experiences of equity-deserving people, build awareness about the barriers these groups face and why strategic change is needed.

When done in isolation, celebrations and communications rarely lead to long-term systemic change and are often viewed as performative gestures. However, when done alongside a robust DEI strategy that integrates changes to policies, people and business processes and decisions, they certainly can create change.

It’s important for employers to connect the dots in their communications about the steps the organization is taking to strengthen the representation, inclusion, equitable access and outcomes of the communities being celebrated.

Read: Redbrick highlighting DEI through employee-led discussions, education sessions

Engendering trust isn’t just a tick-the-box public relations exercise; it’s crucial for employers to commit to clear indicators of what will be achieved through a DEI strategy and transparently share progress on these indicators throughout the year. A commitment to meaningful strategic action is needed while celebrating these occasions.

Kristin Bower, partner and DEI consultant, Leda HR

As Canadian workplaces become more aware of the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion topics and issues, many employers are providing opportunities to participate in events and celebrations such as Pink Shirt Day, National Indigenous Peoples Day and Pride Month.

As awareness increases around DEI issues — and the barriers to inclusion that some groups of people face — we see more observances each year. It’s wonderful to see these celebrations prioritized in workplaces. As a DEI consultant, it makes me happy when my clients ask me to help establish an annual calendar supporting different observances.

Read: Survey finds 53% of U.S. workers say DEI a key factor when searching for new job

This is what I always advise: don’t just make it about a day, a week or a month — employers must connect these celebrations to their company values and ensure that employees understand the ‘why’ behind doing so.

Mental Health Week is the second week in May. It’s an opportunity to talk about something that impacts everyone. Sometimes people are mentally healthy, while other times they might struggle with the ups and downs of work and life or experience a mental illness. None of this is confined to a single week of the year. By having conversations about mental health year-round, employers can normalize the topic and hopefully help an employee get the support they need. If an employer only talks about mental health during that one week, employees may feel it’s not genuine.

Consider what a colleague once said to me about Pink Shirt Day: “My bully wears pink.” While it may be great to see a sea of pink shirts, do employees know what bullying means and the impact on productivity and mental health? Don’t make it only about a pink shirt.

Read: CGI Group marking Mental Health Awareness Month with fundraiser, employee wellness offerings