How agencies and companies are observing Juneteenth

With equity and inclusion top of mind in the industry, acknowledging the day appropriately is critical.

Juneteenth is one step closer to becoming a federal holiday.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would declare June 19 as the 12th federal holiday in the U.S. and President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday.

Juneteenth, which marks the official end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865, has long been commemorated by the Black community. But only last year, amid social unrest after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans by white police officers, did Juneteenth become widely recognized by corporate America. Brands including Adobe and General Motors marked the holiday with a day off, as did many in the advertising industry.

As agencies and companies navigate respect and inclusivity, they’re honoring the day in different ways. 

Publicis Groupe

Publicis Groupe is recognizing Juneteenth with programming at the agency and holding-company level. The Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) and Viva Women of Color, two Black employee resource groups, will host an interactive lecture called “The Rise of the Black Creative” with Dr. Leonard Moore, professor of history at the University of Texas Austin and founding director of the UT-HBCU initiative. 

Publicis will also host a virtual pop-up market featuring Black-owned businesses on the company’s internal platform, Marcel, and donate a percentage of sales to the National Urban League. The holding company will post content on Marcel about the history of Juneteenth as well as how to personally commemorate the holiday. 

While some Publicis firms have been granted the holiday off, others have encouraged employees to take time off.

Fitzco

Atlanta-based independent creative and media agency Fitzco began observing Juneteenth as a company holiday in 2020, “and it will be treated as such going forward,” said CEO Dave Fitzgerald. 

“If the day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will be treated like July 4 in that the previous Friday or the following Monday will be the day it is observed,” he said in an email. 

In addition to the day off, Fitzco sent every employee a copy of the recently published On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed to promote education about the day’s significance.

Zeno Group

PR agency Zeno Group is giving employees Friday, June 18 off. The agency will also host a forum to discuss its recent DE&I progress report

Zeno’s Black Voices employee resource group will share content on social media about Juneteenth, including stories and reflections from its employees. 

Hawkeye

Hawkeye will hold a 90-minute Juneteenth event on Thursday, June 17 called “Honoring What Matters,” where employees will reflect on the events of 1865 and the BIPOC American experience. 

Esi Bracey, COO of Unilever and Lewis Williams, CCO of Burrell Communications will speak, and Hawkeye will host a virtual Black-owned business showcase. The agency will also spotlight its social justice projects including Intersection, a mentorship program for high school students, and include a live music performance by Chicago Med actor Colby Lewis.

Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick established Juneteenth as a company holiday last summer and will close its North America offices again this year. 

As part of its flexible working program, Weber Shandwick allows employees to observe the national, religious and cultural holidays that are most meaningful to them, so employees can swap a company holiday with any holiday of choice.

VMLY&R 

VMLY&R is celebrating Juneteenth this year with panels, live music and a day of observation. 

Led by Black employee resource group Fluorescent, VMLY&R will host a live panel featuring Black executives from across parent WPP, including VMLY&R’s chief integration officer Myron King and SVP of commerce strategy Brian Owens; BCW global chief inclusion officer Carol Watson; and GroupM managing partner LaToya Christian. Author, journalist and TV personality Eboni K. Williams will moderate the discussion.

Following the panel, VMLY&R will host a Juke Jam with musical performances by artists Valerie June, Joshua Henry and KAMAUU, and a fireside chat with music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, focused on Black Music Month.  

VMLY&R employees will have Friday, June 18 off, and are encouraged to use the day to support Black-owned businesses, visit African American historical sites or museums or volunteer. VMLY&R will also donate to Give Black Week and match employee donations to Black-led organizations through its foundation. 

Facebook

This Juneteenth, Facebook is allocating $2 million from Black-owned small business grants programs to support Black women-owned small businesses. The tech giant is partnering with non-profit Reimagine Main Street to distribute the funds within the U.S. Facebook is also releasing a guide for marketers and businesses with creative tools and resources to support and engage with Black businesses and customers.

Facebook Elevate, a program that supports Black-owned small businesses, jobseekers and creators, will host programming to spotlight small businesses from Galveston, Texas. Facebook will also host a social media series titled Black Luxury on the platform’s hub for Black creators, “We the Culture.”

In addition to programming, Facebook will release content throughout the week, including a live set by DJ OshKosh and an accompanying Spotify playlist. Finally, Facebook will release a film featuring creators TT The Artist, BMike, Jade and Griz Triz on June 23. 

On Juneteenth Facebook will change its wordmark to a design by artist Monica Ahanonu and its in-house creative agency, Creative X.

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