We’re a few days away from Juneteenth where companies are taking action to recognize, honor and celebrate the incredible significance of June 19, 1865, the end of slavery.
While Black communities celebrate this day in reflection of their past and hope for the future, the last thing your Black employees want to see is the company they dedicate 40+ hours/week of their hard work, skills and strengths to misconstruing a day of tremendous significance as passive or a corporate marketing tactic. Juneteenth mostly began to be recognized and celebrated by corporation in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd; however, Black communities have been celebrating Juneteenth for 100+ of years. While organizations are trying to choose the right path in honoring this significant day, they’re getting it wrong by treating it as a hallmark holiday. Remember, your Black employees do not feel safe going grocery shopping, attending church, going for a jog in their neighborhood streets or simply sitting on the couches of their own homes. Take a moment to reflect on the weight of that heartache and burden. Knowing this reality, ask yourself, “does my company-wide Juneteenth celebration efforts make my Black employees feel any differently about my commitment to them and their communities?”
Though slavery came to an end in 1865, the reality is that your Black employees are still feeling the impact at every level, especially in the workforce. Today, corporations, I challenge you to think about the way you are honoring Juneteenth. Is it passive or is it impactful? Your Black employees are not looking for an enthusiastic “Happy Juneteenth!” greeting, a company wide party or a soul-food themed lunch. They are looking for this significant day to be celebrated, yes, but also proactive steps towards equality and dismantling systemic racism any day. Here are some ideas on how to honor Juneteenth in an impactful way and passive approaches to rethink:
- Pushing the narrative of the company-wide day off as a “perk”
- Only hosting a celebratory company event
- Enthusiastic “Happy Juneteenth!” greetings and strategically crafted social media post to honor Black people.
- Celebrating Juneteenth like any other hallmark holiday
- Invest in impactful career programs to develop and advance Black employees.
- Make the recruitment of Black talent a commitment but continue to provide ways to advance them after they become employees.
- Take a good look at the salaries and resources of the Black people on your team. Does it compare to market rate and to their peers with similar experience/responsibilities?
- Increase representation of Black executives within your organization.
- Donate funds and scholarship money to HBCU’s.
- Get your employees involved in mentoring Black students and young adults.
- Help pair Black employees with your leadership and executive teams as sponsors.
Today, more than ever before, companies like yours have the opportunity to create impact for your employees and wider communities. Interested in brainstorming ways to drive impactful career programs to develop and advance Black employees? Get in touch with us to learn about how we’re helping companies like Meta, Visa and Glassdoor create impact at scale for Black employees and employees of color. Email us at email@example.com to set up a complimentary session.