Honoring Juneteenth: Marking a year of progress
By Karen Robinson
Posted on 06-16-2021
Over the past year, I’ve heard more about Juneteenth in mainstream media than at any point in my life. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day in 1865 when federal troops finally arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people (over 250,000 in Texas alone) were freed. This date, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. I’m encouraged that this important historical date is now receiving heightened awareness and significant recognition.
This year, Juneteenth also marks a year of intense emotions for me. Last summer, I watched as, in the middle of a global pandemic, this country once again struggled with the deep scars and division caused by America’s unresolved history of racial and social injustice. These struggles played out on the news with repeated heart-wrenching images of police discrimination and violence against the Black community. But in those same moments, I was uplifted by images of a global community that took to the streets to protest these injustices and demand a better and more just society.
As the executive sponsor of the Black Employee Network (BEN) at Adobe since 2017, I’m proud to work with an extraordinary group of leaders and champions for strengthening inclusion and advancing the professional growth of our Black community. I am even more proud of the way in which over this past year, BEN has found a way to channel this outpouring of anger, despair, and even hope into positive energy focused on driving stronger impact across our entire company.
In June 2020, Adobe developed the Taking Action Initiative (TAI),our broad initiative to accelerate representation, development and success of Adobe’s Black community while working to change the broader landscape of social injustice and economic inequality. I have been honored to co-lead TAI, which is comprised of five task forces covering community, growth and advancement, hiring and recruiting, responsibility and advocacy, and transparency and governance. This structure has been invaluable in helping us move faster on key initiatives from our investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to growth and development programs, to effectively mobilizing allies from across the company.
One outcome of the TAI is Adobe’s decision to recognize Juneteenth as a global day of learning to focus on Black history and racial justice with a series of companywide events.
Today, we’re honored to host a fireside chat with American civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, who was the first Black child to attend an all-white school in Louisiana in 1960 at age six. Ruby embodies the courage and determination it takes to break down racial barriers and I feel so honored that she is spending time with Adobe employees to share her experiences and insights.
There will also be an employee panel of BEN members who will share their experiences in corporate America as well as insights about their work on the Taking Action Initiative. And BEN is hosting a viewing party to watch “Amend: The Fight for America”, a documentary focused on the fight for equal rights in America through the lens of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
To continue to support the communities where we work, we are inviting employees to complete activities focused on education, awareness, and volunteering throughout June. For every employee who completes activities - including learning how to talk to kids about racism, learning about the Black experience through podcasts, and signing petitions to demand justice – Adobe will donate $100 to Greene Scholars, a non-profit focused on STEM competence in youth of African ancestry in Silicon Valley.
At Adobe, we understand that impactful and sustained change takes continuous commitment and effort. We are making long-term investments in our TAI focus areas, while also recognizing the progress made over the last year across each task force.
- Community: In addition to developing our Juneteenth learning opportunities, we launched a global six-month program called Adobe For All In Action Circles, to coach nearly 900 participants to become active and effective allies.
Learn more about the progress from our Community Task force and hear from Action Circle participants.
- Growth & Advancement: We joined the McKinsey Black Leadership Academy and are building a sponsorship pilot program for managers and directors. To raise awareness and equip employees, we rolled out a companywide “Building Inclusion On Your Teams” training.
- Hiring & Recruiting: We set aspirational goals to focus on recruiting underrepresented candidates, updated our Hiring at Adobe program to reinforce fair and inclusive hiring practices, created a dedicated talent acquisition team, and deepened our engagement with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to build a more diverse talent pipeline.
- Responsibility & Advocacy: We are advocating for policing reform in US legislation and advocating to the Biden Administration for robust funding for HBCUs and support for increasing the Pell Grant. We sent a letter to Congress in support of the IGNITE HBCU Act which aims to increase investments to renovate, modernize, and construct HBCU campus facilities. Additionally, we have revamped our Supplier Diversity program to ensure we have a more inclusive portfolio of partners.
- Transparency & Governance: We published our FY2020 D&I Year in Review report, including intersectional data and comprehensive representation metrics and announced pay and opportunity parity updates and shifted all reporting to URM*/non-URM (vs. white/nonwhite).
I’m encouraged by this steady progress and in the momentum we are building at Adobe and beyond to address structural inequality in our communities and in society. Let’s use Juneteenth to pause and reflect on the history of racism in America and let that galvanize us toward building a society where everyone can live fully and freely.
Topics: #AdobeForAll, Brand, Adobe Life, Responsibility, Adobe Culture, Diversity & Inclusion