Awareness months have become a staple in our calendar (and endless disingenuous posts on LinkedIn), with a dedicated month for almost every cause and community imaginable. From Mental Health Awareness Month to LGBT history month, awareness months spotlight their specific causes and are a time to reflect on how we can most effectively help the community that is represented.
But not everyone sees these months as a positive way to foster change. This week’s blog explains the positives and the negatives of awareness months and why it might be more advantageous to have a diverse and inclusive outlook for everyone all year round.
We need to look at actions and their consequences to talk about this. Does changing your logo to a rainbow for pride mean you look at your work policies towards LGBT staff members? Is organising an event where black colleagues share their experiences once enough to combat a history of structural racism? More often than not, for most organisations, the answer to this is no.
Awareness of the causes highlighted is only enough if your awareness leads to direct action. The growing trend of simply changing your company’s logo to reflect solidarity brings with it a level of insincerity that can feel patronising. Recognising an issue does not lead to change and can be viewed by those inside and outside the community as insincere at least, and self-congratulatory tokenism at worst.
By dedicating a month to a particular cause or community, individuals and organisations can work together to raise awareness and generate discussion about an issue that may have previously been eclipsed by issues that affect a broader scope of people and thus seem more important. This can promote understanding and empathy - or allow someone to learn about a cause or identity they might have been looking for.
This, in turn, can create communities, causes, and further action for the group that extends past the awareness month itself. This can lead to new policies, programs, and initiatives being established that can live long past the months themselves.
Conclusion - awareness months have become commercialised, and people are using them to make money rather than raise awareness about the issue. This makes the recognition feel inauthentic and used. Surely it’s better to raise awareness of all causes all the time and live our lives as truly authentic, inclusive and diverse humans?
Conclusion - by dedicating a month to a particular cause or community, we can work together to increase understanding, empathy, and action, which creates a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
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