- Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have committed to making Juneteenth a bank holiday beginning next year, Bloomberg reported Friday. JPMorgan and Wells told U.S. employees Thursday they would add a floating paid holiday this year to commemorate the day.
- Morgan Stanley told employees they could step away from work at midday Friday, a bank spokeswoman told the wire service, adding that staff were encouraged to "consider taking time for any activities that are meaningful" to them.
- President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a measure to make June 19 a federal holiday to observe the belated announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery. The 1865 announcement came more than two months after the Civil War ended; 4½ months after Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery; and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The push to commemorate Juneteenth gained considerable steam last year as banks and other companies grappled with the legacy of racism in the country, spotlighted by the May 2020 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police.
"As a company that stands strong against prejudice, injustice and inequality, we are committed to putting an end to discrimination of any kind, against any group, anywhere it exists in society today," JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and the bank’s global head of diversity, Brian Lamb, told employees in a memo Thursday, according to Bloomberg. "This week’s milestone serves as reminder for each of us to rededicate our actions to the pursuit of equality for every community."
In a memo, Bank of America said it is “honoring Juneteenth with broad, robust resources to empower employees to continue our courageous conversations” and to “take action as a company and a catalyst for others in support of racial equality and economic opportunity."
Some companies and groups are opting to observe the day Friday because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year. The Federal Reserve Board’s Washington offices are closed Friday, for one, but its financial services are operating normally. The Fed said it will "determine how to adjust our schedule to reflect the new federal holiday in the years to come." The Securities and Exchange Commission also said its offices would close Friday. Markets, however, are open.
Banks’ policies varied last year as JPMorgan, PNC, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Truist, Fifth Third, Santander and others said they would close early on the day. Mastercard, for its part, gave employees the day off in 2020. Bank of America last year opted to keep its branches open and let its employees take a personal day.
Citi told employees last year that they could take an extra paid "Heritage Day" each year on a day of their choosing — including Juneteenth — in coordination with their managers.
"The celebration of Juneteenth also serves as a reminder of the hard work that remains to address the terrible legacy of slavery," Sara Wechter, the bank’s human resources chief, said in a Thursday memo to U.S. employees, according to Bloomberg. "Today, and every day, our Citi team is working to build a more equitable society for all."
Wells Fargo’s addition of the holiday next year marks a change in policy. Last year, the bank said it "will be honoring and commemorating Juneteenth through various activities focused on learning about the holiday and engaging in meaningful dialogue," according to a spokeswoman.
The bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday and the House on Wednesday by a 415-14 vote. Lawmakers hadn’t created a federal holiday since 1983, when Martin Luther King Day was first observed. Even then, it took 16 more years for all 50 states to recognize the holiday.
About 9% of companies will take Juneteenth off this year, a survey by employer consulting firm Mercer found, according to the Financial Times. That compares with 55% for Martin Luther King Day.