In 2021, June 19th became an official US federal holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth National Independence Day (also known as Emancipation Day) honors the day that union soldiers, led by Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform the slaves of their freedom.
While President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier on January 1, 1863, declaring more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free, the news of their freedom failed to reach many enslaved African Americans in Texas until June 1865.
On that historic day, former slaves joined in celebration with prayers, dancing, singing, feasting, and joy. The following year, the first annual Juneteenth celebration took place in Texas to honor African Americans’ freedom and liberation. Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980. Florida, Oklahoma, and Minnesota were among the first states to slowly adopt the holiday after Texas.
Nationally, Juneteenth was ignored and omitted from history lessons for far too long. Many attribute the long overdue, official recognition of Juneteenth to the momentum generated by the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
While it is relieving to see Juneteenth finally getting the honor it deserves, celebrating people of color should never be reduced to a single day, or month. Providing equal opportunities for leadership, pay equity, upward career mobility, and inclusive workplaces, for people of color every day is what really matters in business.
Vendavo’s Belonging, Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce is committed to upholding a safe environment that allows for individuals to succeed and develop without hindrances. Our team continues to promote our inclusive environment and hold each other accountable. It is up to us to ask the right questions of our employees, listen to all voices, and ensure people of color are involved at every stage of our decision-making.
In today’s social and economic climate it is now more important than ever to ensure Vendavo offers a culture that both welcomes and fosters diversity of background, experiences, and thought. But more than just speaking to the value of diversity, it is incumbent upon us to listen to and take action upon the needs of our employees to celebrate the richness that diversity brings to our interactions.”BRUNO SLOSSE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Part of holding each other accountable means recognizing we still have a long way to go. Instituting a true culture of inclusion means diversity isn’t seen as “separate”, but is naturally woven into decision making, resource allocation, and social interactions – that’s where we want to be.
One of Vendavo’s core values is Celebration of Community. We seek and create opportunities to come together to learn, share, contribute, have fun, and celebrate our connections – locally, with our teams and neighborhood communities; internally across functions, offices, and geographies; and externally with customers, partners, and investors. Belonging, Diversity and Inclusion permeates this core value.
Here are some of the tangible steps we are taking to foster a more inclusive workplace:
- Creation of a Belonging, Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce
- Quarterly and annual tracking of demographics including % of female population and % of underrepresented minorities globally
- Holding our executives accountable through yearly surveys, training sessions, roundtables, and other initiatives
- Scheduled seminars and speakers series
- Inclusion in new employee orientations
Juneteenth is synonymous with jubilee and freedom. We can only begin to imagine what it was like to be enslaved and freed on that historical day in 1865. As we reflect on that auspicious day, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to educate, make real change, create dialogue, and amplify black voices.
We vow to do better.
Black-Owned Businesses Vendavo Employees are Supporting
With a global team and offices in Denver, Dallas, Düsseldorf, Prague, and Stockholm, here are some of the black-owned businesses our People and Culture team encourage Vendavo employees to support:
- Black-Owned Businesses in Denver
- A Guide to Black-Owned Businesses in Dallas
- Black-Owned Businesses in San Francisco
- 50 Outstanding Black-Owned Restaurants in Atlanta
- Black-Owned Businesses in London
- Guide to Supporting Black-Owned Businesses in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway
- Germany’s Black-Owned Business Directory
5 Helpful DE&I Resources
Finally, here are a few useful resources our Belonging, Diversity, and Inclusion taskforce pulled together for promoting inclusive work environments:
- 3 Ways Structural Racism Could Be Hurting You at Work—and How to Navigate Them
- Here’s How Unconscious Racial Bias Can Creep Into Recommendation Letters—and How You Can Avoid It
- Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech: Why Ethics, Diversity in Hiring & Implicit Bias Training Isn’t Enough
- The Diversity Issue Nobody Talks About—and Why It’s Time to Break the Taboo
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism