Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has gained recognition on corporate calendars. As organizations incorporate Juneteenth into their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, employers need to navigate the observance in a respectful and inclusive manner. This article guides to help employers effectively understand and honor Juneteenth while supporting their employees.
- Clear Communication
Employers should communicate the historical significance of Juneteenth to employees, encouraging them to learn about its history independently. If feasible, information on local Juneteenth events can facilitate employee engagement. Consider organizing educational sessions or lunch-and-learn events to enhance understanding. Implementing a “Did You Know?” campaign can help raise awareness and promote engagement within the company.
- Involvement of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Engaging various ERGs, including those beyond BIPOC communities, promotes inclusivity in Juneteenth celebrations. Allowing ERGs to share personal stories related to the holiday fosters a sense of unity and understanding. Open discussions to all ERGs and employees, creating an environment where everyone can participate.
- Support for BIPOC ERGs
Collaborate with BIPOC ERGs to understand their preferences and ideas for Juneteenth celebrations. Providing necessary resources and budgetary support for company-wide events demonstrates support. Empowering ERGs to take the lead while offering assistance when needed promotes their agency and fosters a sense of inclusion.
- Sustaining Inclusivity Efforts
Recognize that DEI is an ongoing journey requiring continuous growth and improvement. Develop a strategic plan aligned with organizational goals and values. Offer training to leaders on addressing unconscious bias, effectively leading diverse teams, and fostering connections across differences. Promote appreciation for employee diversity throughout the organization.
- Resource Sharing and Self-Learning
Employers should initiate resource-sharing initiatives, taking the responsibility off Black employees to educate their non-Black colleagues about Juneteenth. Providing research-based information encourages self-learning and independent exploration. These efforts foster understanding and empathy among employees.
- Prioritizing Employee Well-being
Acknowledge the historical significance of Juneteenth and the potential emotional impact it may have. Encourage employees to prioritize self-care by offering Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources and wellness benefits. Remind employees to take time and engage in discussions about Juneteenth at their own pace. Strive for sincerity and simplicity in honoring the holiday’s essence, avoiding performative gestures.
Observing Juneteenth in the workplace allows employers to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. By effectively communicating the significance of Juneteenth, involving ERGs, supporting BIPOC communities, and sustaining inclusivity efforts beyond the holiday, employers can create an environment where all employees feel valued and respected. Sharing resources, promoting self-learning, and prioritizing employee well-being contributes to a meaningful observance of Juneteenth.