*Updated on June 17th, 2021 to reflect Juneteenth officially being named a Federal Holiday in the U.S.*
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s, but in recent years (particularly in response to global protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans), there has been a surge in interest in the day that celebrates freedom.
Before it became an official federal holiday, many businesses shifted toward marking June 19th as an annual company holiday, creating different initiatives around the holiday and offering employees opportunities to learn, reflect, and take action toward racial equality.
In honor of Juneteenth, we reached out to our partner companies to see how they're honoring Freedom Day. Here's what they said:
Committing to Ongoing Learning– Chainalysis
"Chainalysis has chosen to provide a day off on Friday, June 18 for its employees to free themselves of work activities in order to prioritize reflecting in any way, shape or form they choose to. By providing a company-wide day off, Chainalysis is ensuring that its employees have the bandwidth to commit to ongoing learning and expanding upon the company's DEI initiatives, as that contributes to -a better workplace, and society, for all."
They've also planned the following initiatives for their employees:
- "Hosting a panel discussion, with internal and external guests, around the importance of diversity, Juneteenth and what we can do to help tackle structural inequality, particularly in the fintech/ blockchain/ cryptocurrency space.
- Curating and creating an educational video and newsletter around the significance of Juneteenth.
- Promoting give-back resources and opportunities to Black-owned or focused organizations and foundations that tackle social justice issues.
- Competition to commemorate Juneteenth - whether dish or design - with winners to choose an organization of choice for Chainalysis to contribute to."
A Virtual Artistic Experience and More– LogMeIn
"This year, LogMeIn's Black ERG (BE@LogMeIn) is offering several opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth. First we will come together to view a virtual artistic experience in which three LGBTQIA+ artists of color will share original poems, monologues, and stories. Then we will host a "Storytime" in partnership with our Families ERG for an interactive reading of Juneteenth for Mazie, a captivating story about the history of slavery and why we celebrate Juneteenth as told from parent to child. Finally, we will host an engaging tour of the Black Heritage Trail, a 1.6 mile walk in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Supporting Black Businesses– Ciena
"At Ciena our Black & African Heritage (B&AH) ERG is encouraging employees to participate in a day of service on Friday 18th using their Volunteering Time Off to engage in their respective cities to serve Black and African heritage communities. B&AH has also created a page on Go/Ciena, Ciena's intranet, to share curated content to commemorate the day either by supporting Black businesses, attending virtual Juneteenth events, and educating themselves and others."
Learn more about Ciena here.
Focusing on Reflection– Vouch
"Vouch celebrates Juneteenth by closing for observation on June 18. We encourage our employees to take the day to focus on reflection."
Learn more about Vouch here.
Elevating Black Voices– Collins Aerospace
"In a first-of-its-kind industry collaboration event at the ERG level, the Collins Aerospace African American Enterprise Board (AAEB) and the Boeing Black Employee Association (BBEA) will join forces in an event dedicated to elevating Black voices across our companies. We hope this will be the first of many such industry-wide conversations between our ERGs as we strive for aerospace to be the most inclusive space. In addition, several site-specific events will commemorate and honor the history of Juneteenth and why it is critical for all to remember the day."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Dream In Color Film Review– NBA
"Dream In Color will host a panel discussion with the forces behind "A Most Beautiful Thing," a documentary film chronicling the history of the first U.S. African American public high school rowing team. As the NBA office is closed in celebration on the holiday on Friday, on June 18th executive producer and NBA legend Grant Hill, director Mary Mazzio and Arshay Cooper, a rower and protagonist of the film, will discuss Arshay's story. This discussion will moderated by NBA TV host, Stephanie Ready."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Reflecting on Our Past, Creating Change for Our Future– Freddie Mac
"At Freddie Mac, we're building on our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by recognizing Juneteenth as an official company holiday and day of service. The significance of the day will be commemorated with a series of learnings and opportunities throughout the month to engage inclusively while giving back to our local communities, including:
"Day of Understanding" keynote address featuring a professor of African American Studies.
"Building Community within Our Communities" series of virtual community outreach initiatives supporting select non-profits across the U.S"
Learn more about Freddie Mac here.
Speaking to Equality– Netskope
"Netskope observes Juneteenth as an official company holiday in the United States. We have expanded our events that celebrate and observe dates and moments that speak to equality and against racism - Juneteenth being one of many."
Learn more about Netskope here.
Spreading Awareness Across the Nation– Uber
"The United States and Canada will continue to observe Juneteenth and Black at Uber is releasing company-wide communications surrounding the day, its meaning, and celebratory events and activities going on in cities across the United States and Canada that people can support and attend."
Learn more about Uber here.
Lunch and Learn Celebration– AAA
"AAA EXCEL Business Resource Group (BRG): EXCEL will be hosting a "Lunch & Learn" Event to celebrate and discuss Juneteenth. This Freedom Day Event will feature a Meet-and-Greet with the EXCEL Leadership Team, a panel discussion with Executive Leaders, and a fun ending filled with prizes."
Learn more about AAA here.
Virtual Fashion Show– Audible
"Audible's Impact Groups encourage an environment where you can be you. This Juneteenth Audible's Black Employee Network will be celebrating The Style of Freedom and The Freedom of Style! Audible Employees will share pictures in a virtual fashion show inspired by this prompt:
Imagine this: it's Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. A huge celebration is kicking off. And we're there. What would you wear? It could be historical, cultural, or contemporary."
Learn more about Audible here.
Deepening Awareness and Making Positive Change– S&P Global
"At S&P Global, we commemorate Juneteenth while recognizing that we still have a long way to go to create an equitable society. This year we marked Juneteenth with a formal U.S. company holiday, and provided our people with resources to deepen their awareness of what this day stands for while continuing to make positive change. We will engage our people through educational event programming, brave spaces for open conversations, and our community partnerships. Some planned events include "Making Freedom Pay: What we can learn from the U.S. Reconstruction Era" and "Beyond ESG: Economic Impact of Inequality on Black Women."
Learn more about S&P Global here.
Conversations About Black Investing– Moody’s
"In honor of Juneteenth, we will host several conversations that focus on the Black community and financial services. Our CEO, Rob Fauber and Michael T. Pugh, CEO of Carver Federal Savings Bank, will come together for a live conversation on the state of Black owned banks, "Banking Black," and much more. In addition, DK Bartley, Moody's Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion officer, and Mellody Hobson, President and co-CEO of Ariel Investments and the chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation, will host a session on the importance of Black investing. We will also issue a newsletter that commemorates and educates employees about the significance of Juneteenth."
Learn more about Moody's here.
Driving Equity and Inclusion– Nestlé USA
"We announced last year that Juneteenth, sometimes called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, would be added as a corporate holiday in the US. Cultural conversations about equality and racial equity brought into focus the importance of this day and we believed it was important to commemorate it as a company. So, our corporate offices will be closed on Friday, June 18th, to allow employees time to reflect on the history of Juneteenth, the meaning of the day and consider their role in driving equity and inclusion at Nestlé and in our communities."
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Appreciate the Difference and Be Curious– VTS
"VTS offices will be closed for observance for Juneteenth. We encourage all employees to take the time to live our values of Appreciating the Difference and Be Curious and actively engage in the holiday. While we may have the day off, it is actually a "day on" as the holiday is a crucial day for allyship. We will be sharing some resources to all employees to learn more on how to celebrate and take action."
Learn more about VTS here.
Brave Space Sessions– Okta
Okta is Celebrating Juneteenth through the following initiatives:
- "Celebrating Juneteenth" presentation at company all-hands: The presentation featured historical context on the holiday as well as suggestions for employees to get involved."
- "DIB Lunch and Learn: Fireside Chat with Jodi-Ann Burey: Jodi-Ann will discuss heritage months, how companies can better support employees from marginalized communities, allyship, and intersectionality."
- "Brave Space Session: We will create space for authentic conversations about violence in POC communities and how to channel this energy into something that can build a stronger community within our organization."
- "Ailey Film Screening: For two days at the end of the month we will have the new Ailey film available for viewing."
- "Juneteenth video featuring Black employees from Okta."
- "Newsletter that highlights a few Black employees at Okta and their experiences with Juneteenth during childhood."
Storytelling, Reflection, Empathy, and Action– Seatgeek
"This Juneteenth, we are focusing our programming on four elements - storytelling, reflection, empathy, and action - expanding last year's Day of Service to several days of impactful virtual events.
SeatGeek has also committed to donating $10,000 on behalf of our employees, giving individuals an opportunity to contribute to the fund as well."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Celebrating the Legacy of Juneteenth– VideoAmp
"Saturday, June 19 is the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. Out of respect for and to honor this important day for all African Americans across the country, VideoAmp will observe Friday, June 18 as a company holiday. All offices will be closed, and we encourage Vampers to participate in cultural activities or give-back events to show allyship and support for Black citizens in the communities where we live and work."
Learn more about VideoAmp here.
Honor, Recognize, and Reflect– MongoDB
"MongoDB recognizes Juneteenth as a paid day off for U.S. employees. This year, MongoDB employees located in the U.S. will take the day off on Friday, June 18th to honor, recognize, and reflect on Juneteenth."
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Sharing Thoughts, Experiences, and Resources– BlackRock
"We have several opportunities for employees to reflect on the ongoing struggle for racial equity and observe Juneteenth. For instance, our Black Professionals Network (BPN) in our Delaware Office is partnering with the Global Head of Talent Acquisition, leaders & managers of the Delaware campus to share their thoughts, experiences, and provide resources for hiring diverse talent in honor of Juneteenth. This panel will discuss obstacles regarding the hiring of diverse talent, will touch upon the firm's commitment and current progress, and will also explore how our Black Professionals Network can support with such hires."
Learn more about BlackRock here.
Social Justice Day– Healthfirst
"On June 17, Healthfirst's weekly employee Race & Justice Forum becomes a celebration of Juneteenth, featuring a special presentation of employees from around the company sharing what Juneteenth means to them—it's history, traditions, and future. Members of the Black History Month committee will meet with Healthfirst summer interns for a small group discussion about Juneteenth as well. That Friday the company's intranet page will feature a tribute to Juneteenth, with a primer on its history and information about the company's Social Justice Day, a paid day off to engage in activities or service that positively impacts the community."
Learn more about Healthfirst here.
Showcasing Black Excellence– Relativity
Black Excellence Showcase posters
"Relativity's community resource group, BRel (Black at Relativity) is virtually highlighting black owned businesses via black excellence showcases throughout the week. Our showcases celebrate Black Excellence while educating our Relativity community with bios, fun facts, videos, articles, and custom art celebrating the amazing work of black individuals. Additionally, we'll be encouraging our Relativians to support black businesses via a list of recommendations.
Relativity is also partnering with the Innov-8 leadership team on June 17 to host a webinar highlighting challenges black employees face and how individuals and organizations can work to negate these challenges."
Lamar Jordan – Infrastructure Engineer II & Co-Chair of BRel (Black at Relativity)
Learn more about Relativity here.
Education, Advocacy, Demonstration, and Donation– PagerDuty
"One year ago we introduced our Day for Change initiative on Juneteenth. We recognize Juneteenth as a global holiday and encourage employees to use the time to advocate for equity and critical reform for the Black community. Furthermore, we have grown this annual initiative into a comprehensive quarterly offering. Days for Change involves a strategic delivery of programming, content, philanthropic efforts, and a menu of action items, enabling company-wide activation with four key pillars to create change; Education, Advocacy, Demonstration, and Donation."
Learn more about PagerDuty here.
Inform, Encourage, Reflect, and Engage– ServiceNow
"ServiceNow celebrates Juneteenth this year with a series of employee experiences designed to increase awareness, inform, encourage reflection, and engage.
- A video featuring Black employees sharing what Juneteenth means to them and their Juneteenth family traditions
- Employees globally sharing the music, literature, figure or moment that influenced their understanding of the Black experience
- Dialogue on ServiceNow's $100M investment in Racial Equity fund
- Launch of Black at Now Belonging Group newsletter
- Intersectional opportunity to celebrate LGBTQIA+ artists of color"
Rest and Reflect– GameChanger
"GameChanger observes Juneteenth and honors its historical importance by offering all teammates a paid company holiday. We also are providing teammates with resources to enable them to take the time off to rest and reflect, learn, and/or advocate. Finally, we're hosting a teammate dialogue circle the day before the holiday to provide teammates the chance to learn and discuss why the day is not just an important day in Black History but for American History."
Learn more about GameChanger here.
Sparking Empathy and Acceptance– Elastic
"In order to commemorate Juneteenth, Elastic will be observing this event as a holiday on Friday, June 18th."
"If you're looking for a documentary, start with 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay. It can be challenging to spend a lot of time on the subject of racism — it's very heavy. Ava knows how to get to the core of the metamorphosis of racism. This documentary highlights how slavery evolved from convict leasing to disproportionate mass incarceration and other factors like keeping people locked into the system with GPS monitoring, house arrest, etc. This documentary demonstrates what modern slavery looks like. 13th helps spark empathy and acceptance of black peoples' stories instead of nullifying them."
Destiny H, Prin Web Producer
Learn more about Elastic here.
Amplifying Employee's Voices– Procore
"Procore is observing Juneteenth (or Freedom Day) on Friday, June 18 as a global holiday for all employees. Through Modern Health, our mental wellness program, employees also have the opportunity to attend a webinar to reflect on what Juneteenth is and what it means in corporate America. We are also celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Daring Conversations and Allyship speaker series, which focuses on listening, learning, and amplifying our employee's voices. You can learn more about our ongoing efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive future here."
Learn more about Procore here.
Juneteenth Day of Learning– Facebook
"On Friday, June 18, Facebook is excited to host our company-wide Juneteenth day of learning in recognition of the legacy, excellence, and resilience that drives the immense contributions of the Black community to the world.
Employees can participate in a full day's slate of insightful discussions with notable activists and public figures, including Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Tina Knowles-Lawson, June's Diary and more, who will share perspectives on the history and significance of Juneteenth.
Or employees can take the day off to celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them with a personal Facebook Choice Day.
Externally, our family of apps will tell the story of how Black people use our platforms every day to reimagine freedom through community, personal expression, love, joy, celebration and action."
Learn more about Facebook here.
Siobhan Sabino's first introduction to tech was one she's since realized is shared by many women who grew up in the 90s: Neopets.
"It's HTML and CSS," explains Siobhan of the options to customize a user profile and shop on the virtual pet site. "It was a very curious thing, and that was how I got into tech."
Her early interest grew when she went to a specialized high school that focused on computer science. "Essentially the requirement was, 'Are you good at algebra? Come on in!'" remembers Siobhan. "Suddenly there was this explanation of the things I'd been seeing. Here's how the Internet, this crazy new thing, here's how this is working. Here's how computers are working."
Siobhan credits her high school education with preparing her well to study computer science in college—she was the only freshman in her C++ class, she remembers, having skipped all the basics that she'd covered in high school—but it was also the place she first felt unwelcome. "A lot of the guys in my math class thought they were going to go to the computer program and didn't get in," says Siobhan. "And they were very salty when they found out I had gotten in. They were like, 'You don't belong there.'"
Siobhan was shaken at first, and in those early days, she recalls spending some time crying at her terminal, struggling with a QBasic program. "It was the first time I was aware of this idea that girls aren't supposed to be good at math, that women aren't supposed to be good at tech, and I just remember thinking, 'I can give up, or I can just become the top of this pyramid of people who do tech in school.' And I never looked back," she says. "I was not raised to be a quitter."
Siobhan's learned to prove herself, which is something she's leaned on throughout her career as she's taken on new challenges, including in her current role as Lead Data Engineer at youth sports tech company GameChanger.
We talked to Siobhan about finding a company where she felt like she belonged, how to pay forward that feeling to others, and how job seekers can find the fit and the community that allows them to be their full selves at work.
Finding the right culture fit
Siobhan currently does the culture interview for GameChanger. One of the questions she always asks—if you're interviewing for one of their open roles, take note!—is "What's the best team you've ever been on?"
Her own answer to that question, she realized, was a team where she worked with all senior engineers. She was the youngest and the only woman. "There was no sense of 'I have to prove myself, and to prove myself, I have to put other people down,'" she says. When she interviewed at GameChanger, she felt like it was a similarly ego-free place.
At first, she took the interview at GameChanger just to practice. She was ready for a new challenge after being at her last company for four years, and wanted to ease her way back into recruiting. A company focused on providing scorekeeping, statistics management, recap stories, and live streams for youth sports didn't seem quite in line with Siobhan's self-proclaimed status as "not a big sports person."
"Non ironically, my favorite sport is muggle quidditch," she says, smiling.
But Siobhan got on the phone interview anyway. "At the end of this half hour, I was like, 'Oh my god, I want to work there. I want to work at GameChanger because the person I talked to was so excited about the job,'" she remembers.
That wasn't par for the course in the world of tech recruiting, Siobhan had learned. "I've done interviews with famous companies where I go in excited and I leave thinking, 'Well, you clearly don't want to work there. And you're the hiring manager! Why would I want to work there?' I've done interviews with big tech companies where I go in for an onsite and they'll have more than a thousand engineers and they can't find a single woman for me to talk to. For GameChanger, it was that feeling of it is about the culture."
For Siobhan, that culture was one that focused on people and on creating meaningful connections between them. That includes between GameChanger users—"I really felt like the company genuinely valued working in sports and helping to make people's lives better, helping coaches and volunteers, helping kids to learn how to work together, and I wanted to be part of that," explains Siobhan—and between the company's employees.
Here are some specific questions she recommends asking your interviewers:
- How does your team celebrate wins?
- What is the most fulfilling thing you've done that was hard at work?
- What is your day-to-day like?
- What is it that you say makes your culture special?
- What do you love most about your job?
Fostering belonging at work
Siobhan recognizes that a big part of feeling like she belongs at work is an innate sense of confidence—one she's fostered since her middle school experience—and that another is being in a supportive environment with a welcoming culture. Choosing the environment that's right for her hasn't always been easy, but as her career progresses, she's gotten better at identifying places she wants to be, like GameChanger. She's also recognized what she can do to pay that sense of belonging forward and help others.
Creating an inclusive, welcoming environment works both ways: it's more efficient from a workflow perspective, especially on a team of engineers, who will feel more comfortable bringing up problems, sharing interesting ideas, and collaborating on solutions. And it's also more enjoyable from an interpersonal perspective.
"I've had interviews where I asked people what's their favorite part of their day. And they're like, 'I love technology.' Maybe that works for other people. For me, I like other people. I like talking to people. I like getting their ideas. I like hearing what they cooked for dinner. And also, what do they think of this architecture?" she says wryly.
When it comes to what a company can do to support those two aims, Siobhan has a couple of examples of what she's seen at GameChanger:
- Creating a "one team" mentality. When one of GameChanger's co-founders stepped down, explains Siobhan, it was a tumultuous time emotionally, and other companies might've seriously floundered. That's not what happened at GameChanger, and Siobhan credits it to the deep sense that all teams, from data to product to design and beyond, are unified. "I remember the CTO and CFO both making comments that there'd be no work that would happen that day. That that's okay. As a company, we had to mourn that this was the end of an era, that that's fine, that they left us with the tools and the culture to reach out to each other and say, 'We're going to go through it together. Are you okay?'" says Siobhan.
- Truly caring for people. "We were one of the first companies sent home early in the pandemic and we'll probably be one of the last ones to reopen, because this is about the team. This is about everyone feeling comfortable, everyone being healthy," says Siobhan. "You're not a cog in a machine, you are a person who has a family and a life and we want you to feel good because we will do the work. That will happen. But we can't replace you."
And on what an individual can do, Siobhan shares two things she does as a leader and a teammate:
- Creating connections. When she first joined GameChanger, Siobhan reached out to the person hired right before her and the person hired right after her and made a cohort, and she continues to reach out to new hires today. "Then if you're having a bad day, you have someone to talk to. Maybe they're just someone to listen to your bad day. Maybe they'll actually have a solution," she says, noting that Slack has made it even easier to send low-stakes invites to new coworkers to help you get to know them.
- Sharing the unvarnished truth. "In my experience, what makes GameChanger unique is this sense that it's okay not to be okay. I try to be honest about my struggles with mental health and verbalizing it both so that I'm advocating for myself, and so other people can feel they can advocate for themselves as well," says Siobhan.
At the end of the day, says Siobhan, finding and creating a place where you feel like you belong and your ideas matter is the most important part of work, and it's worth investing time in figuring out where you can experience that. "There are places whose answers [to culture questions] make you lie awake at night and go 'No, no, no, no, no, you don't want to work there,'" she says. "It's not that you as a person failed. It's that this is not the right culture fit. And that's fine because it'll work for someone else. You find somewhere that works for you."
If GameChanger seems like a place that might work for you, check out their open roles.