*Nike announced in a memo to staff this week that, Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19 and marks the day a group of Texas slaves learned they were free in the U.S., will become a paid holiday.
“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,” CEO John Donahue stated in the email obtained by Yahoo.
He also noted 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.
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— Nike (@Nike) May 29, 2020
“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.”
Nike follows Twitter Inc. in observing Juneteenth joins the ranks of other brands who responding to public outcry following the killing of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer. Companies have pledged to hire my Black people, and Nike has created a diversity taskforce to address racial inequality, Bloomberg reports.
The company also intends to launch a diversity education program on racial inequality.
“Education can play an important role in the fight against systemic racism and bigotry. So from June 19 to July 4, we will offer programming and learning opportunities available to all employees on topics specific to racial inequality. Our expectation is that each of us use this time to continue to educate ourselves and challenge our perspectives and learn. I know that is what I intend to do,” said Donahue.
“Our aspiration is for Nike to be a leader where diversity, inclusion and belonging become a strength for our team and in our culture. This will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight. We need to be resolute, not reactive. It will require a long-term commitment and will demand sustained focus. We will have both.”