Pharrell Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Kenya Barris, Van Jones, international advocacy organization Global Citizen, and the global CEO advisory firm Teneo, have announced the launch of THE JUNETEENTH PLEDGE, a global effort to rally the private sector to ensure that Juneteenth becomes a paid holiday in the United States.
The effort kicked off with a video call between dozens of leading CEOs and corporate executives. The Juneteenth Pledge is currently live at www.juneteenthpledge.com for any company ready to join the movement.
Specifically, the pledge calls on companies to:
- Make Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees in the United States.
- Identify a relevant day in international offices to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people in their country.
- Encourage other leaders in business to sign this pledge and join in making Juneteenth a recognized paid holiday.
- Support employees’ ability to learn, reflect and encourage continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.
This year on June 19, Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, hundreds of CEOs and companies stepped forward to commemorate this historical milestone. This was a step in the right direction, but more can and must be done in the United States and around the world. Among those companies that participated in the call last week and have agreed to the pledge include adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J. M. Smucker Company, Starbucks and Under Armour.
Over the coming week and months, the initiative will be supporting a global campaign to educate and engage companies across the United States, and eventually around the world, to sign the pledge. The initiative will also include a social media campaign and work to support the bi-partisan effort in Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday in the United States.
The private sector is critical in making this vision a reality. Businesses play a vital role not just in the lives of their employees and our communities, but in society at large. We have reached a pivotal moment in history. It is imperative that the history of injustice and promise of freedom be acknowledged, recognized and remembered globally. To do that, it’s time to move beyond just words. If true change is to be made, leaders across industries must act.
Pharrell Williams said: “I love America for its progression, but I’m really in love with the untapped potential of this country. It was incredible to have powerful minds come together and really listen and be open to celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday. These companies influence which way the wind blows, they influence the economy and this was a very meaningful step in the right direction.”
Ellen DeGeneres said: “This is a time to be on the right side of history. As a white person I cannot do enough. My wish is for everyone to join together in this fight.”
Brian Chesky, Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community said: “I am grateful to Global Citizen, Pharrell, Ellen DeGeneres and others for bringing us together on this important initiative. This is a defining moment and we all have a responsibility, especially business leaders, to reflect on what we can do to help drive meaningful change in our society. At Airbnb we will make Juneteenth a holiday going forward and create more opportunities for our employees to reflect on these important issues. This is just one step we are taking to fight racism and promote diversity and we will continue to work with civil rights leaders and our community to drive real change.”
American television writer, actor and producer Kenya Barris said: “Slavery is the recessive scar that all of us share as Americans and we will continue to share in the effects of that scar if we don’t actively address the impact it’s had on our country and, most especially, on Black people in this country. Celebrating Juneteenth and all that it represents from an American standpoint not only acknowledges the wounds of our past but helps guide us towards healing. Right now, we’re part of a unified movement and there is so much we can accomplish in coming together. CEOs can serve as agents of change by helping to shift us forward. Honoring Juneteenth as a holiday is not only a way to unite companies in creating positive change, but also a way to unite employees, consumers, communities and hopefully our country in doing the same.”
CNN Political Commentator Van Jones said: “A miracle is beginning to happen. Out of break downs, breakthroughs can occur. A continent of common ground has emerged out of an ocean of tears which has 30-40 million white Americans thinking to themselves that racism is real and it’s not over and this system is more broken than they thought. And they want to know what to do. Someone killed a Black man and everyone cares. This isn’t just a moment or a phase, this is a time to reset. History is being made. Recognizing this holiday is very symbolic move. Corporate America can help start a conversation that begins on a higher ground.”
Earlier this month, in an open letter to Starbucks partners (employees), President and CEO Kevin Johnson, and COO Roz Brewer announced Starbucks will stand in solidarity with its Black partners to celebrate freedom and condemn oppression by recognizing Juneteenth as an annual U.S. company holiday. They went on to say: “Of course, our work doesn’t stop here. Using our Civil Rights Assessment as a blueprint for progress, we’ll continue to listen and learn and do our part to help America live up to its ideals by creating tangible and lasting change within our culture and workforce, the communities we serve, and as citizens.”
Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen said: “At Global Citizen, we believe that the world’s history of injustice and the promise of freedom must be acknowledged; and we need a national dialogue on how this shapes our collective future. We are proud to stand alongside Pharrell and this influential group of companies in recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for our employees to learn, reflect and connect with their communities.”
Declan Kelly, Chairman and CEO of Teneo said: “On behalf of all my colleagues at Teneo, we are very proud to be partnering with our good friends at Global Citizen as well as Pharrell Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Kenya Barris and Van Jones on this incredibly important initiative. The private sector will play a critical role in helping drive change across society as a whole and we are committed to doing everything we can to help encourage additional companies to sign-up for the Juneteenth Pledge as well as signing it ourselves.”