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In quick succession in June 2020 Nike, Target, and Best Buy made Juneteenth an official company holiday. We were proud to join — and if you haven’t yet, you should, too.
We wanted to share a bit more about Juneteenth, why we made it a company holiday at WorkTango, and the power your company holiday calendar has to create a truly inclusive culture.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrated annually on June 19 that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, with the federal orders that all previously enslaved people in Texas were now free. Though the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed slaves in America two years earlier, Texas was the most remote of the slave states. So about 250,000 people remained slaves in Texas until Granger carried the orders to Galveston in 1865, finally ending slavery in the U.S.
Today, the holiday is celebrated in cities across the United States with activities as diverse as readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, street fairs, rodeos, cookouts, reading the work of influential Black American writers, and more.
Why did we make Juneteenth a company holiday?
Though Juneteenth is relatively new to our holiday calendar, this isn’t really a novel addition. It’s reaffirming what our company already believes.
It’s an opportunity — via company policy — to put those beliefs into action.
To officially create a paid holiday sends a signal that we’re observing something important to members of our community — and therefore, to all of us.
The magnitude and importance of Juneteenth is so obvious, we knew this holiday had to become part of our DNA as a company. The People & Culture team (the same folks behind WorkTango’s Pride Month events) encourage everyone to use the day off as an opportunity to learn more about the history behind the holiday and why it’s so important.
Don’t just talk the DEI talk — walk the walk.
15 Tips for Building a More Inclusive Workplace
How you can celebrate Juneteenth at your company
Make it a paid holiday
It can be complicated to create new company holidays, especially at the last minute. But it counts.
Company calendars, policies and holidays set the tone for creating an inclusive company culture. These things show your employees that you recognize diversity in your workplace and you’re committed to having an inclusive culture.
Educate yourself and encourage others to do the same
Why is it called Juneteenth? Find out where the name originated.
Challenge your employees to read up on the history of the holiday and to learn why it’s important to the Black community..
Important: Don’t ask your Black employees to educate you or your team or the organization at large. It’s tokenizing, and a form of unpaid emotional labor.
Celebrate Black music, food, and culture
Virtual and in-person freedom festivals are planned from one coast to the other. Click here for a list of more than 500 online Juneteenth events for 2023.
Find out what celebrations are taking place in the communities where your employees live and your organization is located.
Share this list of commemorations to make it easier for everybody to attend parades and street fairs, catch performances, and sample food.
The handful of links below might also come in handy to help you and your employees make the most of this milestone day!
Create welcoming workplaces year-round.
2023 Workplace Inclusivity Calendar
Take your DE&I initiatives further
Your actions (and inactions) make a statement. Observing Juneteenth as a company holiday is one of those opportunities to walk the talk with action.
At WorkTango we’re committed to helping organizations improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives, and we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only holistic Employee Experience Platform built for the modern workplace that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.
WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. To learn more, check out our platform overview video, or schedule a demo.