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Has someone asked you if your company is doing anything for Juneteenth? If you don’t know where to start, this article is for you. Read on to understand the history of Juneteenth and how celebrating it can improve your organization.

What is a Juneteenth Workplace Celebration?

Juneteenth workplace celebrations can look different in every company. Even so, each shares a united purpose. Juneteenth celebrates the pioneers who helped facilitate fair changes for Black employees and citizens. The spirit of Juneteenth is a call to eradicate prejudices and provide an equal and fair experience to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, etc. It reminds us that we as a company can change and be better. We can learn from the past and facilitate a better tomorrow.

History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th, the day the last enslaved people in the United States were set free by the Emancipation Act when a union general rode into Texas. From this moment, all American citizens could pursue the American dream and be protected by its laws.

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday to be celebrated for the first time in 2022, almost 40 years after Martin Luther King Jr. day was made a federal holiday.

Why Is a Juneteenth Workplace Celebration Important?

Your company and employees are impacted by the events of their world, nation, community, family, etc. Hosting a Juneteenth celebration demonstrates that your company and leaders are aware of what is going on. Here are a few other reasons.

  • Emphasis on change. Juneteenth celebrates how far we have come as a society and how much farther we have to go. Not every employee has the same experience as their coworkers, but Juneteenth encourages growth as we take steps into greater empathy and understanding.
  • Promotes awareness. Sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day routine. Juneteenth celebrations let you hear different perspectives on the company experience. Hearing these different experiences can lead to conversations that promote growth.
  • Engages employees. Real change occurs at a faster pace when everyone is involved in the process. Promoting a stronger and healthier culture requires everyone’s efforts, not just leadership and human resources. Juneteenth celebrations can facilitate a company call to action.

Ideas For a Juneteenth Workplace Celebration

Each company can express its unique position and resources as they host a Juneteenth workplace celebration. An industry might highlight what large companies are doing in your area. The important thing is to start somewhere and build it up.

Idea 1: Senior Leadership and Personal Reflection

Like all events, Juneteenth provides an opportunity for senior leaders and HR to lead and share. Leaders are individuals who inspire us to grow and believe in a vision. Don’t let this opportunity pass your company. Explain the importance of Juneteenth to your leaders and invite all employees to personally reflect on ways they can improve.

Idea 2: Find and Participate in Local Events

Look in your community for activities in honor of Juneteenth. Job seekers and employees feel a stronger connection with an organization when they actively participate in their community. You can participate in the event all day or for a few hours as a team based on your situation.

If your organization wants to, you can host a Juneteenth event and open it up to the public or other organizations to participate.

Idea 3: Discuss Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

Juneteenth provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss current diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at your company. Show your employees your company vision on these issues and how they can be active participants in them.

Idea 4: Invite a Guest Speaker

You can invite a guest speaker to discuss the importance of Juneteenth and valuing different opinions and experiences. This can lead to personal reflection and opportunities to improve.

Tips for Hosting a Juneteenth Workplace Celebration

After reading the previous sections, you might be feeling a little nervous about planning this event. Remember, you can start small and build upon it year after year. This event might start small and then grow into something bigger.

Tip 1: Discuss with Leadership and Different Teams

With any workplace initiative, it helps to have leadership support. During a team meeting, bring up the importance of Juneteenth and the opportunity to create a more inclusive environment at your company. Have your leadership reflect on why Juneteenth is important to them. You can discuss how Juneteenth helps your DEI initiatives and employee engagement.

Tip 2: Communicate in Advance

Communicate the event to your employees two to four weeks before the event. Let them know the purpose of the celebration and why your company is having a Juneteenth event. These communications can come from different sources: the company president, human resources, team leaders, etc.

This can help your employees know what to expect and build excitement around the event.

Tip 3: Stay Organized

Others will ask you to confirm certain details around the event in a meeting. Create a system that helps you stay organized and makes the information easily accessible. This allows you to verify everything that is confirmed and identify what still needs to happen to host your event.

Tip 4: Book a Conference Room or Send Out a Video Link

Regardless of your celebration format, make sure to reserve the space where you will host the event. This could be one of your conference rooms, a community gathering space, or a video conference link that you send out. This step will help your employees avoid scheduling meetings or different work activities during that time.

Tip 5: Have a Primary and Secondary Plan

Life is unpredictable and it is good to have a backup plan. Your speaker could wake up feeling ill, your conference room could be double-booked and you have to move it last minute. Having a backup plan reduces stress the day of and still ensures that you have a Juneteenth celebration.

Tip 6: Ask for Feedback

After the event has ended, ask employees for their feedback.

  • What did they enjoy about the celebration?
  • How could they help more people be involved?
  • What would they like to see in a future Juneteenth Celebration?

After receiving this feedback, thank everybody for participating and taking action. If you can’t take action on a certain piece of feedback, explain why you cannot and what you will do instead. Asking for feedback and doing nothing with it is a sure way to stop this initiative

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Juneteenth Workplace Celebrations

Yes, it can be done remotely. It will require a little more thought and preparation to ensure your employees are engaged.

No. The word force in a conversation is a red flag. As a company, you can provide the opportunity and encourage people to participate, but at the end of the day, it is their own choice.

Brent Watson enjoys problem solving, analyzing data, team building, and becoming an HR Guru. His work experience comes from the employee experience, recruiting, and training arenas. After attending a local HR conference, Brent knew that he had found his people and the problems he wanted to solve for in the business world.

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