Prioritizing Juneteenth and DEI

Happy Juneteenth! Strategic planning for Juneteenth involves thoughtful preparation and intentional actions to ensure meaningful recognition and celebration within the company. Why should companies prioritize celebrating Juneteenth in the workplace during the month of June? It is essential for promoting equality, inclusion, and a sense of belonging. It helps build a workplace culture that values diversity, educates employees, and supports the well-being of all individuals while acknowledging the historical significance of this crucial milestone in the ongoing struggle for racial equality and justice.

Recognizing Juneteenth not only sends a powerful message that a company values and respects the experiences, contributions, and struggles of African Americans, but also can enhance employee engagement, boost morale, and strengthen the sense of pride and loyalty among employees.

Recognizing Juneteenth aligns an organization with the values of equality and social justice, enhancing its reputation and public image. It shows that the organization is socially aware, culturally sensitive, and committed to making a positive impact beyond its bottom line. This can also have a positive influence on customer loyalty, partnerships, and overall brand perception.

At Engage Mentoring, we work with companies of all sizes to create leadership pipelines through our programs. I fervently believe companies that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity are better positioned to attract, develop, and retain Black talent. To build a pipeline of Black employees, companies should diversify their recruitment strategies to reach a broader range of candidates. This can include partnerships with organizations that focus on supporting and developing Black talent, attending job fairs and events targeted towards Black professionals, and leveraging professional networks and associations. It is important not to just do these things for one day or month, but implement practices and policies that are sustainable and can transform the organizational culture long-term to ensure Black employees are provided opportunities for growth and to be heard.

In our work at Engage Mentoring, we value the importance of access to skills-based mentoring relationships. Juneteenth activities can include showcasing employee testimonials and success stories that highlight the experiences and growth opportunities available to Black employees within the company. They can also include the implementation of a structured mentoring program and/or sponsorship program that specifically focuses on supporting the career development of Black employees. These programs help nurture and retain talent by providing professional development and exposure opportunities.

I recently spoke to a group of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) Leaders. Many companies who have established ERGs more times than not, have one that focuses on Black employees. These groups create a sense of community, provide networking opportunities, and serve as a platform for advocacy and support. ERGs can contribute to the retention and advancement of Black employees by fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.

According to data provided by shrm.org, only 1 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black. Another strategy is to offer training and development programs that address the unique needs and aspirations of Black employees. This can include leadership development programs, skill-building workshops, and opportunities for professional growth. Engage Mentoring is the only software that provides access to internal and external resources that enhance the knowledge and capabilities of our participants. By prioritizing these strategies, companies can actively build a robust pipeline of Black employees at all levels of the organization, creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce that reflects the broader society.

In summary, strategically planning for Juneteenth, companies should ensure that the celebrations are meaningful, inclusive, and aligned with their organizational values. This helps create an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are actively promoted and celebrated, contributing to a more inclusive and culturally aware and responsive workplace. Juneteenth should not be a one-time event. Use the momentum and awareness generated to continue discussions and initiatives throughout the year. Ultimately, caring about Juneteenth is not only a matter of historical significance but also an acknowledgment of a more inclusive, equitable, and just society within our workplaces and beyond. To learn more about how Engage Mentoring’s Executive Forums can support your company, visit www.engagementoring.com.

Yalonda Brown is a seasoned professional whose expertise spans over 20 years in both the private and public sectors. Her drive and self-determination has resulted in a myriad of demonstrable accomplishments as an intuitive leader, thought partner, and high functioning performer. Yalonda serves as the President of Diversity Initiatives for Engage Mentoring where she leads the national expansion of diversity-focused mentoring and leadership programs for companies, universities, and nonprofits.

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