Amid the wave of discussions about racial injustice that began to gain momentum last summer, companies such as Allstate, Google and Nike have announced over the past year that they will recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees.
After passing both the Senate and House earlier this week, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law Thursday by President Joe Biden, making it the 11th federal holiday established by law, along with Christmas, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The day celebrates the delayed news that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing “all persons held as slaves” in the United States. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 – referred to more informally as Juneteenth – that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom when Union soldiers arrived.
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans for generations since that day. But it wasn’t until after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 that companies began making a significant change to celebrate the holiday amongst their employees.
More than 460 companies are observing Juneteenth at this point, with many offering a paid day off or holiday pay, according to HellaCreative, an initiative launched by Black creatives in San Francisco to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Here are some companies that are continuing PTO (paid time off) this year and some who have newly started:
The mobile communications company made Juneteenth a paid company holiday for the first time this year.
“It is the result of the great feedback from our employees about what T-Mobile can do to effect positive change inside and outside our walls,” Mike Sievert, CEO, told USA TODAY.
This is the first year the review app has made Juneteenth a paid holiday. The company said it will observe the holiday on Friday, June 18.
“Myself and other Yelp executives conducted a series of listening sessions to hear from our Black employees and discovered the areas where we can and must do better. Stemming from those conversations, we realized the importance of giving our employees the space to observe Juneteenth as a global paid holiday,” Miriam Warren, Yelp’s chief diversity officer, said in a statement.
The company has planned internal events for its employees to attend to celebrate and recognize the significance of Juneteenth.
The company has planned a series of events and celebrations for its associates and will host a virtual event for all associates to come together and talk openly, a spokesperson told USA TODAY.
The world’s most popular coffee chain made Juneteenth a holiday in 2020 and pays hourly employees time-and-a-half. Salaried partners who are required to work will receive a holiday as compensation, and support partners will get the day off with regular pay, the company said in an email.
“This was one of the many actions we’ve taken to promote an environment where our partners see and feel real progress,” Dennis Brockman, global chief inclusion and diversity officer at Starbucks, said in a statement.
The rideshare company will give employees the day off for the second year in a row.
“We encourage team members to use this day to reflect, participate in civic engagement, or leverage anti-discrimination resources to deepen understanding of the work still needed to support the Black community.” the company said in an email.
Executives at Lyft will also take part in roundtable discussions about Juneteenth, voting, rights, allyship and more throughout the week. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and National Coalition on Black Civic Participation President and CEO Melanie Campbell will be in attendance.
Zillow expanded its holiday calendar in 2020 when it added Juneteenth as a paid holiday for all of its employees.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to racial equality, Zillow observes Juneteenth as a paid holiday, and encourages employees to take the day for reflection, volunteerism, education, and activism to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S.,” Kristina Adamski, vice president at Zillow, said in a statement.
Tobacco company Altria announced in 2020 that it would celebrate Juneteenth as a “Day of Healing,” to further support its Black employees.
“We made Juneteenth a company-paid day off last year and will do so again this year,” Steven Callahan, managing director of communications at Altria, told USA Today.
The company will recognize it on Friday, June 18.
Nike made Juneteenth a paid annual holiday for its employees in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico last year.
“Across our Nike, Converse, and Jordan family, we will close our corporate, retail, manufacturing and distribution operations in observance of Juneteenth to provide educational opportunities that honor Black history and culture,” a Nike spokeswoman told USA TODAY.
The company’s corporate offices and distribution centers will be closed on Friday, June 18, while Nike and Converse retail stores will be closed on Saturday, June 19.
The financial services company made Juneteenth a “Mastercard Day of Solidarity” for its employees last year. The same will happen in 2021.
“We continue to offer employees globally the day for service, learning or reflection,” Will O’Connor, senior vice president of communications at Mastercard, told USA TODAY.
Juneteenth will be observed on Friday, June 18, and Thursday, June 17, for countries that do not work on Fridays.
Juneteenth is an official company holiday at Best Buy, which it announced last year. Corporate offices will be closed on June 18, and corporate employees will get a paid day off. Hourly workers who work full or part-time will receive time-and-a-half.
“It’s really important for us to recognize its significance with our employees and offer them an opportunity to celebrate, reflect or give back,” Mark Irvin, chief inclusion, diversity and talent officer at BestBuy, said in an email.
The company is also providing resources and information on local community-led celebrations, educational resources about Juneteenth and volunteer opportunities.
The global retail giant made Juneteenth an official annual company holiday in 2020.
“In 2021, Target is doing the same by providing team members with the opportunity to observe the day however they prefer, through education, service or celebration,” the company said in a statement.
Employees working hourly will get paid time-and-a-half.
The insurance company followed suit by making Juneteenth an annual, paid company holiday in 2020. It’ll give employees “the opportunity to reflect, learn and engage in their communities,” Allstate spokesperson Mallory Vasquez said in an email.
The company will observe the holiday on Friday, June 18.