President Joe Biden signed a bill this week declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. Also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, Juneteenth—June 19—is the anniversary of the day in 1865 when the soldiers notified the last group of enslaved Black Americans of their freedom. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, many businesses are observing the holiday today.
“We believe companies can approach Juneteenth in a way that significantly enhances their diversity, equity, and inclusion work,” the Harvard Business Review says in an article. “This anniversary is a tangible opportunity to amplify understanding of the unique experience of Black Americans and serve as a catalyst for conversations about intersectionality.”
Here are a few ideas to honor Juneteenth this year.
Buy from a Black-owned business: NBC’s Today has tips on how to find Black-owned restaurants near you. Many communities have sources, including websites and Twitter accounts, that highlight Black-owned businesses.
Reflect: Use June 19 as an opportunity to reflect on the progress your brokerage has made in diversity and inclusion and what more it can do. Consider funding resources and initiatives that expand opportunities for employees of color, the Harvard Business Review suggests. Also, make sure your office is sensitive to and aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their professional and personal lives and find ways to support that. The National Association of REALTORS® offers several resources: Confront Discrimination in NAR’s New Simulation Training and an implicit bias training video
Plan visits and do outreach: Many cities are hosting festivals or parades to commemorate the day, whether virtual or in-person. Companies also may suggest or sponsor visits to one of more than 160 Black and African American museums nationwide, commemorative and historical sites, and cultural centers; distribute articles or videos that detail the United States’ legacy of systemic racism and oppression; or encourage participation in local Juneteenth celebrations and patronage of Black businesses, HBR says. “Companies shift from passive to active commemoration of Juneteenth and other cultural holidays signals purpose and relevance rather than hollow recognition,” HBR adds.
Sponsor local events: Look for local events that your brokerage could sponsor. Large and small companies are doing this. For example, e-commerce giant Amazon is sponsoring several Juneteenth events this weekend and making donations to community organizations in Seattle, where it’s headquartered, to support communities of color. The company says the funds will help sustain active programs relating to equity and social justice, youth development, arts and culture, and sustainability. Consider asking employees and clients to make donations to local initiatives.