Beyond a Holiday: The Significance of Juneteenth for the Staffing Industry 

Beyond a Holiday: The Significance of Juneteenth for the Staffing Industry 

Table of Contents

  • Hannah
  • June 19, 2023

According to a study by McKinsey, Black workers are still underrepresented in the highest-paying industries and are overrepresented in less-paying jobs. ¹

There’s still so much we can do to improve the employment opportunities for the 20.6 million of them in the workforce, starting by celebrating their freedom on Juneteenth and giving them a voice. Here’s how you can celebrate African American employees on-site and virtually this Juneteenth.

Juneteenth’s History and Relevance 

Juneteenth is a remembrance of the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865. They took control of the state and made sure that all enslaved people were freed. This event happened two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

The holiday celebrates and honors the end of slavery across the United States. It is considered the longest-running holiday for Black people. It was only officially declared a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. ²

Without Juneteenth, our talent pools wouldn’t be as diverse as they are today. There would be less creativity in our business solutions with the absence of Black employees and leaders, and no one would be pursuing equality in the workplace. Juneteenth has given Black people the voice and power to participate in society as much as other people.

 

Celebrating Juneteenth at Work 

Discovering and sharing meaningful ways to celebrate this special day can improve the bond among your team members and advance your company’s efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Here are some ways you can celebrate them.

 

Celebrate Juneteenth on-site 

 

1. Share traditional Juneteenth food through a potluck.

One way to learn about Black culture is through food. Encourage your team members to cook dishes they can share with the team, or to order food from Black-owned shops.

Some of the traditional dishes you can try are sweet potato pie, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. Ask each participant to share briefly why they chose the dish they brought. You may discover from your Black teammates that some of the recipes were handed down from generation to generation in their families.

 

2. Volunteer at charity events as a team.

Make an impact as a team by volunteering at charity events that help Black people and other people of color. By doing this, your team will learn about the unique backgrounds outside of their lifestyles and may feel humbled to do better to others.

If there aren’t any volunteer events around you during this time, try working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on helping Black communities. Gather goods to donate as a team and ask the NGO to help you deliver them to specific groups.

 

3. Take a field trip to a museum or historical site.

A great way to learn about Black history is through viewing it. Visit a Black-themed museum or historical site for a work field trip. This will give your team a better idea of what happened to Black people back then and how their situation has changed today.

Ask one of your Black teammates to compare the stories of the community today to the harsh historical events before. See how you can all work together to improve things starting in the office. Discuss actionable steps among yourselves after your team’s tour.

 

4. Encourage employees to tell their stories in front of everyone.

The best way to celebrate the Black people in our lives is to hear their stories straight from their mouths. Organize a simple lunch in the office where your Black members can share their stories.

Learn from their struggles and their successes. You may let them choose their topics. Some can talk about parenting, leading in the office, or job-specific topics such as engineering for Black people.

Whichever they choose, provide a large space in the office where everyone can listen over food. Make the setting casual so that each person who talks can comfortably share their unique stories with everyone.

 

5. Support Black-owned businesses for your game prizes.

You know you plan to play, but how about carefully planning out your prizes for the games? Support businesses owned by Black people by purchasing items from them. In doing this, you can help them reach a broader audience through your employees.

Here are 10 Black-owned businesses you can support.

  • Brave + Kind Bookshop: offers a selection of diverse books for young readers to adults
  • Cafe con Libros: a cafe, bookshop, and feminist community that organizes book clubs for women of color and feminism
  • Semicolon: a bookstore and gallery space
  • Danessa Myricks Beauty: creates multi-functional beauty products that can be used on the face’s different areas
  • KNC Beauty: specializes in under-eye and lip masks
  • Camille Rose: specializes in skin and hair products
  • Arch NYC: creates eye-catching footwear including fuzzy platform mules
  • IV Chains: sells necklaces for both men and women that are all made in Italy
  • Li-Li’s Creations: colorful, vintage-inspired print outfits
  • Maison de Mode: sustainable jewelry, loungewear, beachwear, eveningwear, and more ³

 

Celebrate Juneteenth virtually 

 

1. Show recognition on social media.

You can celebrate a virtual Juneteenth by featuring the stories of your Black teammates. Ask them to share a short paragraph and a photo that you can put in a post.

This way, it’s not just your company who’ll know about them, but also your audience. You are amplifying their voices through these posts, so make sure to use a unique layout specifically designed for the holiday.

Another way is to share short articles via LinkedIn. You can schedule your posts to appear once or twice a week throughout June.

 

2. Send out an awareness email.

Sharing informative resources via email is one of the quickest ways you can share awareness about Juneteenth.

Feel free to be creative. You can attach short videos or colorful infographics to the body of your email. Think about what will catch everyone’s attention to learn about the holiday.

If you have clubs at work, try assigning their respective leaders to come up with relevant topics. For example, your book club members can receive a recommended list of books written by Black authors.

Who should you send your email to? Aside from your employees, you may include your talent pool in your recipient list. This way, you can also show that you care about the African Americans among them.

 

3. Organize webinars on African American history.

Organize a selection of webinars that people would be interested in. Start with at least three topics and let your employees choose which one they would like to know about. This way, you can make sure that they are actively and genuinely learning.

Here are some topics you can choose from for your webinars:

 

  • The history of Juneteenth: Let’s always face the fact that not everyone is aware of the holiday or celebrates it personally. Encourage them to celebrate by letting them know the truth of the holiday.
  • Anti-unconscious bias training: Help improve your company culture through this webinar. Some people may not be aware of their biases and are willing to learn more from their Black teammates.
  • Representation of Black people in the workplace: Discuss why there are fewer Black voices in higher-paying jobs in the U.S. Create an action plan on how you can improve your workforce through the suggestions of the attendees.
  • Contributions of African American leaders to the industry: Show that every Black person has the potential to reach success. This topic is for inspiring everyone to pursue their dreams and to upskill in their chosen career path. Remember to discuss the struggles of these leaders before they got to where they are.
  • African American people with disabilities in the workforce: Employing Black people with disabilities can be good for your company. Discuss their participation rate in the workforce and what plans you have by hiring them.

 

Honor your people this Juneteenth. 

Juneteenth is all about your Black employees and the stories of their community. Rediscover Black history as a team through meaningful team gatherings and you can get more ideas on how to improve your DEI efforts.

 

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Allied Insight is a full-stack marketing agency that can help you reach your audience and clients through your unique story. We can help you by establishing a formal brand identity guide, extending your corporate canvas, MarCom & Content auditing, and more.

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References 

1 Hancock, Bryan, et al. “Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience in the US Private Sector.” McKinsey, 21 Feb. 2021, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/race-in-the-workplace-the-black-experience-in-the-us-private-sector

2 Nix, Elizabeth. “What Is Juneteenth?” History, 8 May 2023, www.history.com/news/what-is-juneteenth

3 “100 Black-Owned Businesses to Shop Now and Forever.” Good Housekeeping, 10 Feb. 2023, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33561639/black-owned-businesses/ 

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