Nike Makes Juneteenth An Annual Paid Holiday

Nike Makes Juneteenth An Annual Paid Holiday

Nike is making Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., an official paid company holiday, CEO John Donahoe said Thursday in a letter to employees.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, honors the day in 1865 on which, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, TX, and announced the news of the proclamation to enslaved African Americans.

Twitter, Square and Vox Media have also in recent days made the day a company holiday.

“At Nike, Inc., we aspire to be a leader in building a diverse, inclusive team and culture. We want to be better than society as a whole,” Donahoe wrote in the letter. He added that observing Juneteenth is an opportunity “to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”

Donahoe also announced that Nike will take further steps to ensure that Black, Latino and Women are properly represented at Nike, as well as make a larger investment in employee professional development. These include offering two weeks of programming and learning opportunities for all employees specific to racial inequality. The company plans to regularly track and measure its progress, though specifics on how the initiative would be carried out weren’t provided.

Said Donahoe, “Our expectation is that each of us uses this time to continue to educate ourselves and challenge our perspectives and learn.”

Nike executives Brandis Russell and Phil McCartney were appointed to co-chair a D&I Acceleration Taskforce that will formulate comprehensive recommendations around four core initiatives: representation, professional development, inclusion, and education.

“As I have listened deeply during my first six months and over the past few weeks, what I have learned is that many have felt a disconnect between our external brand and your internal experience,” Donahoe wrote. “You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognized and celebrated our own Black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change.”

He continued, “When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand.”

Nike pledged $40 million last week to support the black community in the U.S., as global protests in response to George Floyd’s death gathered momentum. The Nike-owned Jordan Brand, in conjunction with Michael Jordan, promised an additional $100 million over 10 years to support organizations dedicated to racial equality, social justice and education access. The basketball legend reportedly contributed $50 million.