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Ways to Recognize and Celebrate Juneteenth

The Symphony Talent Team
June 17 ․ 15 min read

Like many organizations, Juneteenth recognition, on a company level, is new to Symphony Talent. In addition to wishing all of our U.S. employees a “Happy Juneteenth” and allowing employees to have the day off to celebrate in their own ways, we wanted to actually do something productive. As a recruitment marketing technology company, we’ve curated a quick list of things you may want to include in your employer branding efforts. 

This list is one way we can celebrate Juneteenth by being impactful both internally and externally. We hope that these tips support your organization’s growth towards a more inclusive workplace.

What is Juneteenth and Where Does it Stand Today?  

On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth an officially recognized federal holiday after the Senate’s unanimous approval — just in time for this year’s celebration. Juneteenth also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day is a US holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19th.

Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. 

Although Juneteenth has long been celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event has long been overlooked by the corporate world. 

“Growing up in Connecticut, my family didn’t celebrate Juneteenth. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned about Juneteenth as a celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. As I reflect on the past year and the protests against police brutality and the continuing fight for racial equality, I choose to celebrate Juneteenth as an acknowledgment of the dark history of the United States but also as a celebration of the resiliency, creativity, and contributions of Black people to this country.  I view Juneteenth as a time of joy, reflection, family, and education.” 

Jennifer Harrigan

- Jennifer Turner Harrigan

Chief Legal Officer, Symphony Talent

Ways to Recognize and Celebrate Juneteenth Through Employer Branding 

Remove Unconscious Bias from Your Recruitment Marketing 

To attract employees from diverse backgrounds and experience levels, you have to be aware of the unconscious biases that are present in today’s recruiting processes. A friend of mine recently brought a job description to my attention. She had never seen anything like it, and immediately felt respect for the company because of their dedication to removing unconscious bias. The job description asked that applicants remove all identifying information from their resume before uploading it, including name, photos, LinkedIn URL and email address. 

How can you eliminate unconscious bias in your job requisitions?

SmashFlyX AI automation only uses relevant information provided by the job seekers resume, all identifying information such as name and address is removed to reduce the possibility of bias in our machine learning algorithm.

DEI Plugin software and screener scans text content including job descriptions and campaign messages to check for unconscious bias including gender, race and age that can deter diverse candidates from applying.

When suspicious text is detected, a count of issues in the content is displayed along with the highlighted text segments to indicate problem-wording including the category of bias detected. The description of the identified issue helps users understand the bias reported to rectify the wording and make the text more inclusive. Users can also give feedback to learn and improve accuracy by deciding if the bias detection is correct or incorrect. Human-led AI powers talent marketing technology by enabling you to make the decisions.

(Learn more about DEI Plugins here.)

SEE IT IN ACTION: Here’s a quick look at a DEI Plugin filtering out biases in job descriptions.


Diversify Where You Post Jobs and Ads 

Creating an unbiased job post and ad is a great start, but what happens when diverse talent isn’t looking where you're posting? You can drive applications of diverse audiences, but leveraging niche diversity associations, media, and job boards show you’re a company that supports these organizations. 

To truly diversify your hiring and recruitment marketing efforts, look to job boards that support diverse sourcing initiatives. Our Chief Legal Officer, Jennifer Harrigan, suggests Valance, Jopwell and Above Board. Each is trying to support companies to source diverse talent while also creating a community of diverse candidates. 

Choose Employee Photos Over Stock Images

It can be hard to mimic real life, so stock photos should be chosen carefully. Yes, there should be diversity and representation in your photos, but there is a tasteful way of doing it. You can easily pick out a website where you see one person of each race and know that the brand threw the stock images up there for the sake of it. In this case, real employee stories are more effective. 

There’s value in showing real pictures from inside your workplace that tells the story of your corporate culture. You don’t need stock images of beautiful models, perfectly posing with a fancy coffee and shiny laptop. Instead, opt for real employees over stock images when possible; and when it's not, look to diversify more than just race. People come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and styles. 

Always look to represent the people you employ and serve on the customer side. If you feel like there’s not sufficient representation, there’s also value in honesty - be upfront and acknowledge the work to be done.

Have Representation Across Your Recruiters

Everyone wants to be represented, recognized and related to. The job-search process is one of the most anxiety-filled times in an individual's life. Now imagine, on top of all of that anxiety, going into a room where you don’t feel like you fit in. If candidates see a diverse recruiting team, they will notice and feel comfortable to be who they are. There’s less of a chance that the candidates will code-switch

Code-switching can mean adjusting your style of speech, appearance, behavior and expression for the sake of fitting in - and in hopes of ultimately getting the job. When your recruiters reflect the company culture, it supports candidates and allows them to feel more comfortable and share their true personalities and strengths. 

Create and Spotlight ERGs

When looking to attract and retain top talent, it’s important to spotlight DEI initiatives that reflect organizational goals and commitments to inclusive hiring and culture. There’s a natural way of creating an inclusive environment, and it sprouts from everyone truly feeling accepted for who they are. 

Especially after last year’s renewed focus on racial equality, some brands have struggled to create an authentic message regarding DEI. Involving your own employees in an employee resource group allows for conversation, growth and (most importantly) a feeling of belonging within a community. Spotlighting this on your career sites and candidate-facing channels can also help attract talent. 

(Learn more about DEI ERGs here). 

Support Internal Content Resources 

Symphony Talent’s ERG has created a community for discussion and resources available to all employees. The DEI Forum meets once a month, to check in and discuss specific steps that can be taken to make Symphony Talent a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to work. It’s a learning opportunity for every employee that joins - and also serves as a safe space to listen and connect with colleagues on a deeper level. 

The DEI Committee provides internal resources such as: 

  • Anonymous surveys sent to all employees on a cadence (whether that be annual, quarterly or monthly). This serves as a checkpoint for the improvement of employee belonging and acceptance. The DEI Committee will then take action on the data collected. 

  • External content campaigns to promote their story and goals. Content such as LinkedIn banners, blog posts and hashtags. The Symphony Talent employees created the #daretobehuman campaign and are proud to use the hashtag across social media. 

  • Internal Content to promote understanding and participation. The DEI Committee sends out newsletters to the entire employee community, with resources, history, employee spotlights and an overall message of support each month. They released a special edition focused on the history of Juneteenth, and how employees can go further to understand and support the holiday. The June newsletter will concentrate on Pride. 

  • Acknowledgment of holidays, celebrations and events. One way to celebrate Juneteenth is to educate employees on Juneteenth in the all-company meeting, send out educational content and encourage employees to change their email signatures for this week to let our clients know of our upcoming US office closure in observance of the holiday: “In observance of Juneteenth, our Symphony Talent US offices will be closed on Friday, June 18th. We take this day to honor and embrace contributions made by Black Americans as part of our #daretobehuman journey.”

"Register for Opal Lee’s Walk Live 2021. On Saturday, June 19th, walk 2.5 miles along with Ms. Opal and her Ft. Worth community to recognize the Juneteenth holiday. Walk from wherever you are to recognize the 2.5 years it took for the news of freedom to reach all enslaved people in the United States. You can do it in your own neighborhood, with your community, or even on your treadmill."

For more information and tips like these, check out our updated DEI Guidebook. 

DEI: What It Means, Why It Matters & How to Act