In an internal memo sent to Nike (NKE) staff obtained by Yahoo Finance, CEO John Donahoe announced that the company would recognize Juneteenth an annual paid holiday for U.S. employees.
“As many of you may know, next Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Starting this year and going forward, Nike will recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday in the U.S,” he wrote. Donahoe said doing so is an “important opportunity is to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”
In addition, the Swoosh brand has also launched a diversity education program. “Education can play an important role in the fight against systemic racism and bigotry. So from June 19 to July 4, we will offer programming and learning opportunities available to all employees on topics specific to racial inequality. Our expectation is that each of us use this time to continue to educate ourselves and challenge our perspectives and learn. I know that is what I intend to do.”
Donahoe also noted that the sportswear giant will make other efforts to ensure that the company’s recent stances on social justice are not just rhetoric.
“When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand,” he said.
“I strongly believe that focusing on a more diverse and inclusive culture for our Black teammates does not take away from our commitment to build a more diverse and inclusive culture for all groups inside Nike. It is not zero sum. In fact, most of the actions that we must take are consistent with what is required for everyone.”
Donahoe then laid out a number of initiatives the company is currently taking in an effort to further social causes the company believes in.
The Nike CEO plans to set “representation goals” which will hold him and the rest of Nike’s leadership accountable when it comes to ensuring black, Latinx and women are adequately represented at Nike. The company also plans to increase its investment of employee professional development.
“Our aspiration is for Nike to be a leader where diversity, inclusion and belonging become a strength for our team and in our culture. This will not be easy, and it will not happen overnight. We need to be resolute, not reactive. It will require a long-term commitment and will demand sustained focus. We will have both.”
Twitter and Square have decided to declare Juneteenth a company holiday as well.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.