Juneteenth: What Companies Are Doing to Celebrate

Published: Jun 17, 2022

Topics: Diversity       

In the wake of civil unrest and the death of George Floyd in 2020, Juneteenth has become more widely recognized and is now an official federal holiday following bills that were passed by the Senate and the House in 2021. As of the present, many companies are celebrating Juneteenth in a variety of ways, with some offering their employees time off, or by raising awareness with events or promotions. Today we’ll be talking about Juneteenth, and what some companies are doing to celebrate this year.

 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth National Independence Day is the official title given to this federal holiday that honors and celebrates the emancipation of African American slaves. On June 19, 1865 General Order Number 3 was issued, with the purpose of transmitting the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the state of Texas, the last state of the Confederacy to hold slaves. With the Emancipation Proclamation being issued in 1863, that means it took over two years for Union Troops to travel all the way to Texas to break the news.

Some say that technological advances may be our downfall as a species, but we also must consider that at least some advances have led to overall improvement. Try to imagine it taking years for you to learn of some very important and life changing news. Many people suffered for a very long time on the road to equality, and while we can never fully understand how they felt, we must always pay respect and be mindful of their struggles. Now that we know a bit more about the history of Juneteenth, let’s see what some major companies are doing to help celebrate.

 

What Companies Are Doing to Celebrate

Some companies have been recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday since 2021, including Nike and Twitter. These companies offer each of their employees the day off with full pay, with their offices being officially closed for the holiday. Interestingly, while Lyft is celebrating Juneteenth with a paid company holiday for its corporate employees, its drivers will be left with the decision of whether to work, or stay home with no pay, as the company recognizes its drivers as independent contractors.

Companies such as Google and Amazon encourage employees to take the day off in observance of Juneteenth, but as of the present do not offer a paid holiday. Both companies have a “no meetings” policy for the Friday before Juneteenth, and Amazon is providing its employees with the opportunity to engage in a variety of virtual education opportunities during the day. Alternatively, companies such as Target and Starbucks will remain open; however, they will be paying scheduled employees time-and-a-half on Juneteenth.

Other companies are offering educational events or programs to their employees. For example, Walker Sands, a marketing agency, will be holding a series of internal podcasts performed by African American associates. These podcasts will provide historical facts about Juneteenth, and provide employees with ideas of how to appropriately celebrate the holiday. Similarly, performance management company 15Five will be releasing a podcast series that deals with topics such as Juneteenth and LGBTQ rights.

As of this year, 30% of private employers are offering Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees, an uptick from previous years. Many companies have taken it upon themselves to engage in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and practices, and have also established various employee resource groups (ERGs), which could potentially lead to more companies officially recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday in the future.

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