Article

Recognizing Juneteenth

Resources and insights to honor this holiday at your organization

5 minutes

June 19, 2023 Adecco

An African American person looks out the window with a hopeful smile.

Juneteenth is an important day to look at how organizations in the US can move towards racial equality in the workplace. Not only can this help create a level playing field for employees and leaders, but it can also benefit productivity, the economy, and the job market.

Whether you’re celebrating Juneteenth for the first time or have been doing so for years, it’s a time to remember our shared history and to recognize the importance of continuing to make the US a great, inclusive nation.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It’s celebrated on June 19, the day that General Gordan Granger, in 1865, informed over 250,000 slaves in Texas that they were free, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was formally issued on January 1, 1863. The newly-freed African Americans celebrated with song, dance, food, and prayer – laying the foundation for Juneteenth celebrations today.

Over time, Juneteenth celebrations spread from Texas to other states where people marked the day with rallies, parades, festivals, and picnics. Many Americans have long considered Juneteenth a time to reflect on the history of slavery and celebrate African American culture, as well as an opportunity to recommit to the fight for racial equality and justice for all. Juneteenth became an official federal holiday in 2021 following a nationwide social justice movement and growing calls for the US to confront its past.

Juneteenth and the World of Work

Many parallels can be drawn between diversity, inclusion, and Juneteenth – particularly in relation to the challenges that working Black Americans face. While there has been an uptick in the drive for ethnic and cultural diversity in the workplace, there’s still a noticeable divide in some areas.

According to research from McKinsey, Black professionals in the US hold a disproportionate share of frontline jobs and are not being promoted from entry-level to managerial positions at the same rate as others. With heightened awareness of the lack of diversity in influential roles, the pressure to quickly close this gap has gained some ground in recent years.The racial divide impacts organizations from the private sector, to non-profit, to government and academia in other ways they might not even consider. For example, Black employees are more likely to burn out at work, which could damage companies’ efforts to retain talented professionals of color in the long run. Couple this with the fact that Black working parents have a harder time finding childcare options, and it’s easy to see how workplace inequalities harm employees and organizations.

Where We Are Today

Today, there is a growing focus on promoting inclusion to give more opportunities to Black professionals in the workplace. Driving organizational change, mentorship, upskilling, and sponsorship programs are helping promote minorities to executive ranks and other influential roles.

However, there's still room for improvement when it comes to creating truly inclusive workplaces. One challenge is that many organizations still view diversity and inclusion as compliance issues, rather than opportunities to create a more dynamic, creative, and resilient workplace. As a result, they often focus on meeting minimum requirements, rather than going above and beyond to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

Some companies also fail to provide adequate training for their leaders on how to create and maintain an inclusive workplace. Without this key component, employees can be left feeling disconnected from their team and their organization.

Our Commitment

Adecco in the US is a proud partner of OneTen, a coalition of leading CEOs and organizations committed to hiring, upskilling, and advancing one million Black individuals into family-sustaining American jobs over the next decade, with an emphasis on underrepresented talent without four-year degrees. >At Adecco, we believe in talent, not labels. Every day we take steps to live out our company purpose of Making the Future Work for Everyone, and key to this is having impactful partners, like OneTen, who are helping drive a more inclusive future of work that is more accessible to everyone. Read more here.

Additional Juneteenth Resources

Adecco acknowledges the importance of honoring Juneteenth as a way of both focusing on the struggles of our Black colleagues and practicing allyship. Below, we share learning resources to watch, listen to and read. The material will be familiar to some readers, new to others, and, it is hoped, inspiring to all.

Watch

Juneteenth Discussion with Kelly Navies

Juneteenth & the Solomon Sir Jones Films

This is Why Juneteenth Is Important for America

Why All Americans Should Honor Juneteenth

Listen

The History and Meaning of Juneteenth

153 Years of Juneteenth

Merry Juneteenth!

1619 – The New York Times

Read

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619 – 2019

On Juneteenth

157 Years of Juneteenth