Corporate America — beauty companies included — is beginning to acknowledge Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved people in Texas were freed, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.
The holiday has risen to increased prominence this year after the police killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests against police brutality. Companies that rushed to vocalize their support for the Black Lives Matter movement have started to back up Instagram posts with internal initiatives, including expanded diversity and inclusion training and strategic plans to hire more Black employees.
Some have also declared Juneteenth an official holiday, and are giving employees the day off.
“All U.S. employees will be given this day off to reflect not only on the current social movement and the historical significance of the date, but on what we can all do to educate ourselves and initiate meaningful, necessary conversations,” wrote Shiseido Americas chief executive officer Marc Rey in an internal memo last week. Shiseido Americas offices will be closed for Juneteenth starting today, and for all years going forward.
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U.S. employees at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. will also have a paid day off. On Thursday, the company’s inclusion and diversity center of excellence hosted a virtual conversation for employees in recognition of the holiday that centers around the Black experience in the U.S. with Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, a race, democracy and civil rights scholar from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lauder will also close U.S. retail stores for the holiday, and manufacturing center employees will be given the option to take a paid day off.
While L’Oréal USA didn’t declare a company-wide paid holiday, the business is offering employees another personal day as a “cultural observance day” that can be used to honor Juneteenth or a different culturally significant event, said a company spokeswoman.
At P&G Beauty, there is a digital Juneteenth event sponsored by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. Employees have been encouraged to take a half day to learn about the history of Juneteenth.
Outside of beauty, many corporations, including Nike Inc. and Target Corp., are also instituting Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday.
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