Nike CEO John Donahue sent an internal memo to his staff announcing that the company would recognize Juneteenth as a holiday for U.S. employees, according to Yahoo Finance. The footwear and apparel giant followed the announcements of tech companies Square and Twitter, who also made the declaration earlier this week.
Juneteenth which is celebrated on June 19, marks the day a group of Texas slaves were made aware of their freedom, two years after they were proclaimed free. Nike’s remarks come as the company joins the ranks of other brands who have been asked to take corporate accountability in the fight against racism and white supremacy.
“As many of you may know, next Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Starting this year and going forward, Nike will recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday in the U.S,” Donahue stated in the email obtained by Yahoo. Donahoe also wrote that the current environment presented an “important opportunity is to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”
“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,” the statement continued.
“I strongly believe that focusing on a more diverse and inclusive culture for our Black teammates does not take away from our commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive culture for all groups inside Nike. It is not zero sum. In fact, most of the actions that we must take are consistent with what is required for everyone.”
In addition to the holiday, Nike has commuted to launch several wide-ranging initiatives, including maintaining diversity representation among employees and to invest in employee professional development. The company also promised to launch a diversity education program, which will cover topics relating to racial inequality.