This month marks the start of Black History Month (BHM), a month dedicated to celebrating and proudly commemorating the many contributions that Black people have made to the history of America and beyond.
In 1976, US President Gerald Ford opined that we need to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Fast forward 45 years to 2021, and we’re keeping this time-honored tradition alive in the US.
In the lead up to Black History Month, we had a chance to catch up with a colleague to discuss some of the history of GSK’s celebration of BHM. According to David Fitts, former GSK employee and founder of our African American-aligned Employee Resource Group (ERG), our celebration of Black History Month dates to as early as 1995, when he was part of the legacy Glaxo and Burroughs Wellcome merger. At that time, the ERG was called the Black Managers Group, and former CEO Bob Ingram served as the group’s very first Executive Sponsor. Per David, “The ERG was established with a mission to build a more equitable and inclusive culture, and it used the commemoration of Black History Month to educate and build trust and community across the organization. Inaugural members of the group included Jonscott Williams, Shirrell McNeill, Mel Asbury, and it grew to include many other leaders after the GW:GSK Merger.”
Fast forward to 2021, and GSK continues its celebration of Black History Month. US I&D and our Mosaic and Embrace ERGs will offer several thought-provoking webinars throughout the month with an aim to educate and stimulate discussion among colleagues about the achievements and contributions that African Americans have had on US history. Our webinars will be facilitated by renowned thought leaders and will cover topics ranging from ‘Thriving at GSK’, to ‘Getting Comfortable with the Language of Inclusion’ to ‘Let’s Talk Allyship’. In addition, we will hear reflections from Sr. Leaders as they share thoughts on what Black History Month means to them; we’ll share an update about our relationship with 23& Me; we’ll discuss our partnership with the PA Stem Equity Collective and we’ll disclose some of our US diversity aspiration goals.
We’re proud of our 2021 Black History Month celebration, and plan to spend the shortest month of the year joyously and proudly reflecting and celebrating these significant achievements and moments in US history.