Written in collaboration with Chan Huot, Product Marketing Specialist at Kronos.

As America celebrates Juneteenth – a holiday memorializing the day that Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and told slaves of their emancipation from slavery. We honor and celebrate today, a day when all Black Americans became free.

As an organization we are committed to playing an active role in perpetuating much-needed change by recognizing this day as a company-wide holiday, continuing our personal fight for racial justice and equality for all Black Americans. Impactful and lasting change requires all of us as a community to come together toward putting an end to systematic racism and injustices.

We encourage you to spend the day honoring your commitment to drive positive change in this racial movement.  Believing in supporting the Black communities and becoming good allies for all people of color, whether you are in the workplace, spending your time with the community, or in the comforts of your home, we have some possibilities for celebrating Juneteenth:

In the workplace

Celebrating Juneteenth in the workplace shows your solidarity as an organization dedicated to a diverse workforce. Showing your support for diversity doesn’t stop there – inclusion is a key element to having a true diverse workforce. Building an inclusive culture will create, deepen, and strengthen relationships with your employees, resulting in a sense of belonging that will enhance employee engagement and productivity. Think about these possible options:

  • Consider expanding your organization’s observed holidays to include Juneteenth.
  • Discuss company diversity groups and initiatives through regular open dialogues and encourage questions without fear of judgment. It’s an opportunity to share experiences, learn, and gain more support.
  • Start a charity drive to help support non-profits with missions of educating others, driving action, and ultimately working to end racism and promote equality.
  • Host an education session where your employees have the opportunity to learn about and share African American history, facts, and experiences. 
  • Host an after-work social hour – either remote or in-person with proper safety standards – honoring Juneteenth. The event should be celebratory, festive and in honor of African American history. Pass out buttons, pens, fun hats, and t-shirts and encourage employees to wear them the remainder of the day. Don’t forget to take office pictures and post to social media.
  • Decorate a conference room, lobby, or bulletin board with a Juneteenth theme to educate and connect with employees. Show others why this is important and attract interest by inviting different teams together, perhaps over lunch (who doesn’t like food?!) to help explain the history of Juneteenth.
  • Provide Juneteenth decorations for employees to decorate their workspaces and be a part of the celebration. 
  • Plan for future Juneteenth celebrations and other meaningful and important racial justice events – remember, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is a full-time pursuit and we should find as many opportunities to highlight it as possible

In communities

Celebrating Juneteenth locally is one significant way to stand up and be a part of the change.  Getting involved in your community either individually or as an organization is an outward step to confront racism and build a better community for all. Here are some possible areas your organization could influence the creation of or participate in:

  • An annual festival that showcases how other communities celebrate Juneteenth, explores the history of Juneteenth, displays African American artifacts, provides arts and crafts stations, food and beverage tasting booths, and of course music! 
  • A community flag raising in honor of Juneteenth, if social distancing or decreased pandemic risk permits this kind of celebration. Invite the town via email, newspaper, Facebook, and other channels. 
  • Inspire local libraries, post offices, city hall, nursing homes to daycares to host Juneteenth displays with history and artifacts. 
  • Throw a neighborhood block party, again if safety permits.
  • Identify local individuals to receive awards for their contributions to the community.
  • Start an outdoor or virtual concert with music celebrating African American heritage.
  • Consider packaging these ideas into one big annual parade next year if we’ve reached post-COVID-19 status.

In your home

Celebrating, remembering, and honoring Juneteenth in your home hits a little deeper than at work and in the neighborhood.  This is the place we should be having honest, open, supportive dialog about African American history, Black communities, and all people of color. Discuss how Black experiences in our country have or haven’t changed through time.  These next few ideas are ways for you to talk, listen, learn and encourage loved ones about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging:

  • Plan a special meal and gather the family together to remember Juneteenth.
  • Spice up your front door with Juneteenth door swag. Decorate your doors and dinner tables with a Juneteenth theme. This invites others to ask and discuss what the celebration means and how it impacts us today.
  • Make a charitable donation to existing non-profits and organizations working to end racial injustice. And, if you’re are comfortable, we encourage you to talk about the donation and its significance to others in your household. 
  • Dedicate time for yourself to reflect – sort through thoughts in your head and even go as far as writing them down, or read important literature on anti-racism and Black history. 
  • Create a plan on how to become a better ally. What change do you want to be a part of, and how will you influence people around you?
  • Talk to your friends and family to see how they plan on recognizing the holiday.
  • Celebrate Juneteenth on social media! This is an easy and respectful way to demonstrate that this holiday matters.

Conclusion: We can all take steps right now to fight racial injustice

As racial injustice remains prevalent in our country, it’s extremely important to Kronos and Ultimate that we remember, honor, and celebrate this day as we continue fighting for diversity, inclusion, and belonging. We hope whether you are in the workplace, in your community, or at home, you’ll join us in celebrating Juneteenth. We invite you to absorb these artifacts to take in at your own speed and in your own time:

  • Learn more about Black communities and experiences in the United States, and the experiences of all people of color. Commit yourself to listening and understanding what needs to change, could change, should change, and most importantly, how we can make that change together. Start with learning more about the history of Juneteenth and see how celebrations have evolved over time.
  • Listen even when it’s uncomfortable or when you don’t fully understand or agree. It allows you to empathize and understand why change is needed.
  • Share the fight by speaking up against injustices that you witness in your life. Educate your children on systematic differences between communities.
  • Act and support the movement by getting involved in your local community and voicing your support. Progress is only made by the support of people who care.

Standing in complete solidarity with our community we will also take this time to focus on the critical work ahead in the pursuit of racial justice. We as an organization recognize that we aren't perfect on this issue either and have plenty of work to do ourselves like many other companies, but we are committed to doing that work and having meaningful conversations that bring about positive change.

Published: Friday, June 19, 2020