Adland is getting behind the growing movement to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, to give employees a chance to pause and reflect on social-justice issues and to celebrate that momentous day — June 19, 1865 — that marked the end of slavery in the United States, following the conclusion of the Civil War.
Most states recognize the day as a holiday or special day of observance. The federal government does not, despite growing calls that it be declared a national holiday.
Omnicom CEO John Wren issued a memo last week announcing its decision to make Juneteenth a company holiday. The firm will also have a related online session June 18, curated by the corporate diversity office led by Chief Diversity Officer Tiffany Warren. “We encourage all our agencies to participate, and I ask each of you to take the time to consider the role we can play in this struggle for equality, both as individuals and as a collective,” Wren wrote in a companywide memo.
With the support of the parent company, many Interpublic Group agencies are commemorating Juneteenth with a day off.
Separately, the firm closed offices Friday June 5 declaring it “A Day Of Healing” after two weeks of sadness, anger, unrest and protest that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. CEO Michael Roth wrote a staff memo stating: “We hope that this day is an opportunity to spend time learning, volunteering, or having conversations with friends and family about our roles in improving racial justice and diversity.”
Publicis Groupe US employees are being encouraged to take off a day of their choice for pause, reflection and healing through Juneteenth. Some of the firm’s agencies have opted to have all employees take their day of reflection on Juneteenth. Also, on June 17, all employees will participate in the Groupe-wide “Pause for Action” day of exploration, work sessions, and more around the issues of diversity and social justice to inform and set the course for future actions at the company.
At WPP, a number of agencies will be closing offices on Juneteenth, including VMLY&R, GroupM, Ogilvy and Geometry. The company and its agencies have taken other steps, as well. One example: AKQA has compiled an impressive archive of resources about race and racism.
No doubt other agencies will be commemorating the day with programs or a paid day off, including New York-based independent shop Oberland.
I wonder when the federal government will get with the program?