In a company-wide memo sent to employees this week, Nike CEO John Donahoe said the corporation will begin to recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday starting this year.
Juneteenth, which is also known as Black Independence Day, is celebrated on June 19. It marks the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the United States on June 19, 1865, which was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery.
Donahoe said the holiday is an important opportunity to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.
In the memo, which Nike shared with OPB, Donahoe also said that both Black athletes and Black consumers have been and continue to be critical to the company’s success. He acknowledged concerns from employees within the company that Nike’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement does not translate internally. Donahoe also committed to focus on hiring more people of color at all levels in the company, professional development for people of color, and more inclusion training and racial inequity education.
“We are at an important inflection point where we must capitalize on the passion, energy and commitment that we are feeling right now,” Donahoe wrote in the memo.
The Portland area’s other footwear giant, Adidas, said it’s also addressing issues of inequality and racism inside the company after several of its employees staged a walkout last week in support of their Black coworkers who they say are marginalized.
Adidas responded this week online with a Twitter thread that promised changes to company hiring practices, racial disparity accountability efforts and financial investments in Black communities.
PEOPLE (2/2)— adidas (@adidas) June 10, 2020
30% of all open positions (internal and external) will be filled with Black and Latinx talent.
50% of all open positions will be filled with diverse talent (inclusive of all diverse categories, gender, sexual orientation, disability, veteran).
An Adidas spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company will observe the Juneteenth holiday.
Meanwhile, the actions from Nike come after several other companies announced similar initiatives this week.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of tech giants Twitter and Square, tweeted on Tuesday that his companies will recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. And Jim Bankoff, chief executive of media company Vox, announced in a memo that the organization will also observe Juneteenth as a company-wide holiday.
Nearly all U.S. states, including Oregon, recognize Juneteenth as a holiday but it is still not observed as a national holiday.