How Firms Can Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month

April 10, 2023

First formally recognized by President Biden in 2021, Arab American Heritage Month has been celebrated by cultural leaders for decades. Law firms have the opportunity to recognize and commemorate the contributions of Arab Americans in the legal industry and beyond as part of their broader inclusion efforts.

This year, Arab American Heritage Month holds even more significance as it aligns with Ramadan, which began in March and lasts until April 21-22. Below are some suggestions to guide marketers in creating appropriate and meaningful content for this topic:

  1. Understand what the term Arab means. “Arab” refers to culture and background, while “Arabic” refers to language. Generally, individuals with heritage from any of the 22 Arabic-speaking countries — including Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, and Egypt, among others — identify as Arab. And though Arab communities often are associated with the religion of Islam, people from Arabic-speaking countries practice religions including Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arab. Arabs and Arab Americans identify with many different customs, dialects and accents, traditions and more.
  2. Collaborate with your firm’s DEI leaders and Arab American employees. Include the individuals you are honoring in the planning process, and ask how they would like to be acknowledged. A helpful starting point is partnering with affinity or employee resources groups. Also, take cues from how your firm commemorates other observances such as Pride Month or Black History Month. And remember: If you’re unsure, ask rather than assume.
  3. Consider hosting an internal commemoration. Your firm could organize a small book club or host a large town-hall event, inviting Arab American employees to share stories from their lives and careers. Participants could also share what their Arab heritage means to them on a personal level. Another option is inviting local community or business leaders to share their experiences. A potential resource may be your state’s bar association if it has an Arab American section.
  4. Consider making an impact externally. Your firm might consider sponsoring a charity drive aligned with Arab American Heritage Month. Or sponsor an award paying tribute to Arab Americans’ contributions. An example is the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, which sponsors an annual award in honor of Arab American Heritage Month to recognize contributions from judges, lawyers and community leaders.
  5. Share high-quality content that highlights Arab culture. For internal or external communications, include voices outside of the legal space to share others’ perspectives. Starting points include this PBS series that highlights Arab American stories and the U.S. Department of State’s DipNote blog about Arab Americans’ quest for fair representation.

Observing Arab American Heritage Month is about more than demonstrating your firm’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This time is also a learning opportunity for the entire firm and a meaningful way to empower employees to celebrate their cultures.