As companies expand their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, it’s important that they observe Juneteenth, the annual holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Retail businesses must take extra care to not only understand the cultural significance of the holiday but also find ways to celebrate Juneteenth with their employees, something that may feel tricky with hourly workers.
Juneteenth, which is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”, dates back to June 19, 1865 when General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over and that those who were enslaved would now be free.
In 2020, Target announced that while their stores and distribution centers would remain open on Juneteenth, those working on that day would receive time-and-a-half pay. Additionally, all eligible Target team members would be allowed to take Juneteenth off and receive full pay. While giving employees the day off on Juneteenth is certainly the gold standard when it comes to celebrating in a retail environment, Target’s choice to pay workers extra shows an understanding of the significance of the holiday.
While it may not be feasible for all retail organizations to give workers the day off, companies should make sure workers' lunch breaks are a time for celebration! One way to do this is by providing free lunch and snacks to your employees working on Juneteenth so they can share in the joy of the holiday. Be sure to buy food from Black-owned businesses in your community so you can support local while celebrating this national holiday with your workers.
Perhaps the easiest way to observe Juneteenth at a retail company is by donating to worthy organizations that support the Black community. If you’re unable to give employees the day off or close early, consider donating to causes that reflect your company’s commitment to DEI and/or local organizations that are planning Juneteenth celebrations. Because Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. you may also consider donating to organizations committed to liberating disenfranchised people across the globe. Don’t forget to let your employees know about your donations so they can have insight into how you’ve chosen to observe this very important holiday!
Celebrating Juneteenth with retail employees requires planning and a bit of creative thinking. We hope the tips outlined in this blog post aid you in your ideation process when it comes to celebrating Juneteenth with your employees this year!