Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day) marks the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to gain control of the state and to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. This day came a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about Juneteenth or its origins prior to 2020, when the murder of George Floyd catalyzed a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and brought the holiday into renewed focus.
Here are six ways companies can honor, reflect, and celebrate Juneteenth this year:
Have your employees share their personal reflections. Invite employees and company leaders to share their own personal thoughts about Juneteenth on your company’s blog, social media accounts, or during a company all hands meeting. Employee-driven engagement is one of the most powerful ways to develop awareness, understanding and inclusivity.
Consider giving your employees paid time off. Eden Health recognizes Juneteenth as a company holiday and believes choosing to do so is an important way to commemorate Black history and culture.
Participate in local events. Search for community events that honor Juneteenth and that are local to you. For employees that are comfortable gathering in-person, try organizing team meetups so employees can check out celebrations together.
Invite guest speakers. Research who you might be able to bring onboard (virtually or in-person) for a fireside chat with your employees. Arrange for an inspiring Black author, filmmaker, local elected official, activist, or a leader in your particular industry to discuss their work.
Provide opportunities for reflection and giving. Do some of the legwork for your employees and source a list of meaningful ways they can get involved in honoring Juneteenth. Curate a company-wide resource list (think: books, podcasts, or documentaries) that will help employees think critically about race in the United States and host breakout rooms to discuss what they read, listened to, or watched. Give employees a list of civil rights or social justice organizations to donate to and then match their donations up to a specific dollar amount.
Transparently share Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Use this day to be open with your workforce about any current or upcoming DEI initiatives you have in the works, whether its unconscious bias training, equitable compensation reviews, or inclusive hiring practices. Share a demographic breakdown of your current staff and acknowledge those areas where you fall short and plan to do better.