How to Celebrate and Recognize Juneteenth in the Workplace

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In 2016, about 1 in 8 people  in the labor force were black/African American employees. 

While the number has been growing throughout the years, there is a good chance that some of them work at your company. If they do, it’s even more critical that you recognize and honor Juneteenth at your company. 

But what should you do for this holiday? If you aren’t sure what the holiday celebrates or what you should do for your employees, keep reading for some ideas. 

What Is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth National Independence Day is a federal holiday that the United States celebrates each year on June 19th (this year, it’s being honored on June 20th, 2022). This Juneteenth celebration focus is essential as it remembers the ending of slavery in the United States.

However, it also acts as a large celebration of black history and culture. This holiday is celebrated because, on June 19th, 1865, Gordon Granger (a general for the Union) arrived in Galveston, Texas. Ths is where he announced that the Civil War had ended, and that they had abolished slavery.

Why Is It Important to Honor?

This is an important holiday, but why should you celebrate it at work? Well, your company is impacted because you likely have some employees affected by this holiday. When you honor this holiday, you demonstrate that your company’s leaders know how it will impact your employees.

It can also help engage your employees. This is a great way to promote change in your culture because all of your employees will be involved in the process. Creating a solid or healthy culture requires efforts from all employees rather than just human resources or leadership. This can be one way that you can bring your employees together.

It can also act as a way to change. This holiday celebrates how far we’ve come as a nation and a society, but it also reminds us how much work we still have to do. Keep in mind that all of your employees’ experiences will be different, but Juneteenth can encourage employees to take steps to show empathy and better understand different experiences. 

Holding celebrations or events for this holiday can also promote awareness, which is the first step to change in any organization. 

Find Speakers to Educate About the Holiday

One event you can hold is asking speakers to come and talk about the holiday. It would be great if you had someone in your leadership team who could speak about the holiday, the history, and why your organization wants to honor it. 

The reasons for each organization might differ, but this will help show employees why your company must take the time to celebrate it. You could set up a town hall meeting to give employees a brief history of the holiday and then open the floor for discussion. 

You could even speak on a different theme each year to highlight the cultural significance of the holiday. Encourage your employees to attend and bring questions to engage in the conversation.

Host a Lunch and Learn

If no one in your company is knowledgeable about the holiday, you may want to hire someone who is. This would be an excellent opportunity to sponsor relevant workplace activities, like a Lunch and Learn. This combines learning with a social event to connect your employees and educate them. 

It is also great because it won’t impact your employee’s work day as it’s typically held over a lunch break. To set this even up, you’ll need to find someone who can speak. You can still do this if you have a virtual team but host it over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

After that, email all the employees about the event. Figure out how long you want the event to go. Most of them last between thirty minutes to an hour. You can also decide if you want to extend or reduce that time. 

At the end of the Lunch and Learn, have an open discussion where employees can ask questions. You could have someone moderate comments and opinions if there are no questions. Ensure that this is still a safe and supportive environment for employees. 

If you’re hosting this event in person, you may also want to offer Juneteenth-related food , like pork, soda, red velvet cake, strawberry, watermelon, hot links, brisket, pork, and chicken. 

Offer Paid Time Off

You don’t have to give your employees the day off as an employer, but it is a mandated federal holiday. You can decide to make it an annual corporate holiday. This can be the perfect way to support your employees and let them celebrate Juneteenth in their way on the day. 

If you can’t afford to let, employees take off during that time, offer them an extra day of PTO they can take whenever they want. If Juneteenth falls on a weekend like it does this year, offer a day off on the following Monday or the Friday beforehand for the company holiday.

Participate in Local Juneteenth Events

You may also want to look at what your local community is doing in honor of Juneteenth. This can be a great way to boost your culture and company’s connection with the local community. You can participate in the event or attend it depending on how many employees or hours you can afford to attend. 

If you have the resources, you may even want to host your Juneteenth event for the public. You could open it up to other local businesses or participants to participate in the community. 

Be Active on Social Media

You can also celebrate Juneteenth virtually through your social media channels, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms. You can do this to raise awareness for a holiday and showcase how you will celebrate it. 

You may want to share your company’s view of Juneteenth and discuss its significance. If you’ve celebrated it before, you can share different ways or traditions. You may even want to highlight some employee quotes or experiences you can share. 

Donate to Good Causes

Do some research to find a suitable charity or fundraising organization promoting racial justice that helps highlight Juneteenth. If you offer to donate and match employee donations, you can even have this be a morale-building event. 

However, ensure that you find the right cause for social and racial justice and that your employees support it. You should also thoroughly research the organization to ensure you know where your donations are going. 

Hire a Diverse Workforce

While many companies still have unconscious biases when hiring employees, take this time to review your diverse and inclusive workplace hiring processes and employment data

You may want to consider ways to further prevent unconscious biases in your hiring process to have a more diverse workforce. You can also take this time to ask your employees about how they view diversity at your company currently. But ensure that if you ask them about this, you follow up with any results with change to support diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Discover More Ways to Support Your Employees

These are only a few ways to support your employees and recognize Juneteenth, but there are many other ways that you can keep your employees. 

As experts in all things recruiting, we have the HR experience and knowledge you need to strengthen a company culture that supports your employees. 

If you’re looking for more information that can help you support your employees with Juneteenth celebrations or future ones, make sure you check out our HR publication, Recruiter Today. We publish daily content to help you create a supportive environment at your company.



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By Alyssa Harmon