Best Buy corporate offices will be closed Friday as it adds Juneteenth to its list of companywide holidays this year.
June 19, the day marking the emancipation of Black people from slavery in 1865, has taken on more significance in recent years. Both Congressional chambers this week passed a bill recognizing it as a national holiday, and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it as soon as today.
As companies pledged to increase diversity and inclusion efforts following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, marking Juneteenth through a day of volunteering or education or a holiday gained traction among corporations.
Target last year made it a company holiday, and Best Buy made it a volunteer day, saying it would become a holiday this year. U.S. Bank branches closed early.
Because it falls on a Saturday this year, Best Buy is marking Juneteenth on Friday, with store employees who do work earning time and a half.
“Juneteenth has long been an important day for the Black American community, but it hasn’t had the awareness or recognition it deserves among the other holidays we celebrate,” said Mark Irvin, the Richfield-based retailer’s chief inclusion, diversity and talent officer. “With this in mind, it’s really important for us to recognize its significance with our employees and offer them an opportunity to celebrate, reflect or give back.”
The company also held an educational seminar and provided resources and information on community-led celebrations, educational resources and volunteer opportunities to its employees.
And Best Buy will match one-time donations by employees on June 19 to nonprofit organizations.
Allianz Life Insurance of North America also will give employees Friday off as a holiday and provided information on how to participate or volunteer in the Twin Cities, which holds one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the U.S.
While Sleep Number is not offering a paid day off, it is marking Juneteenth through philanthropy efforts. This year, it is donating to support a health equity screening grant through the American Cancer Society.
Other companies, such as Xcel and Ameriprise, encourage employees if they choose to use one of their paid days to volunteer on Juneteenth.
Ameriprise also has integrated Juneteenth into its diversity and inclusion education, partnering with its Black Employee Network and Black Empowerment Advisor Community Network to hold virtual speaker sessions and other communications.
General Mills is using the day to highlight its equity goals with employees. The company also held a celebration of Black talent in the arts with spoken word, dance and musical performances, and sponsored time for employees to volunteer.
Staff writers Patrick Kennedy, Kavita Kumar and Mike Hughlett contributed to this report.