By Natalie Boyd
Growing up in America meant that certain communities had limited knowledge and education around diverse cultures, traditions and holidays. Juneteenth is just one example of the lesser known, lesser taught about holidays in American culture. We believe it should be dinner conversation with your families. It should be recognized and celebrated by your employers. It should be honored as a national holiday by our government.
SmartBug is setting out to create an Inclusive Culture. No walls. No ceilings. No excuses. While we don’t pretend to be perfect, we promise to always work toward dissolving the walls, ceilings, and excuses that hinder creating a healthy and inclusive workforce. SmartBug is dedicated to continual improvement. That starts with having the right conversations.
Today’s conversation is with SmartBug’s Digital Marketing Specialist, Natalie Boyd, where she shares with us a bit about what we’re celebrating on Juneteenth, and how you can incorporate diversity into your marketing campaigns.
Q: What are we celebrating on Juneteenth?
A: “Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.” Source: Juneteenth.com
Q: How and when did you learn about Juneteenth?
A: My dad taught me when I was young. Growing up, my dad would always teach me about Black history. It’s unfortunate, our history is not taught in school enough. After all, African American history is American history.
Q: Why is Juneteenth important to you?
A: Although Juneteenth is a prime example of how freedom and justice have always been delayed for Black people in our country, it is a day to celebrate freedom and reflect on our history.
Q: How do you celebrate Juneteenth?
A: If it wasn’t for COVID, it would be a big block party for me. I’d hit the streets, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a Black-owned restaurant, enjoy live music, and support as many Black-owned local businesses in my area as possible.
Q: Why is supporting Black-owned businesses important to you?
A: There are many reasons, but the most important is that I'm doing my part to help close the racial wealth gap, strengthen the local economy, and uplift communities.
Also, the Black dollar doesn’t circulate as it should. I read a stat awhile ago that stated that the Black dollar stays in the Black community for six hours vs. the average lifespan of the dollar is approximately 28 days in Asian communities, 19 days in Jewish communities, 17 days in white communities. We have to do better, and I try to be conscious of where I spend my money.
And major shout out to my SmartBug team who sends me birthday and thank you gifts from Black-owned businesses. They know this is important to me and it feels good to be heard and supported.
Q: How can businesses support Juneteenth in the workplace?
A: There is no better time to have open conversations about your organization’s diversity initiatives. If your company does not have any diversity initiatives, start brainstorming today. Bring in outside help if needed.
You can also bring your team together to discuss the history of Juneteenth. I learned last year that so many people had never heard of this holiday and knew nothing about its history. This could be a new learning experience for some of your team members.
Many communities host celebratory events across the country. Allow time off for your team members who would like to participate. I’m happy to work for a company that allows me to have a flexible schedule and offers floating holidays, so I can take the time I need to celebrate things that matter to me, like Juneteenth.
Q: What other ideas do you have to incorporate diversity into your marketing campaigns?
A: Start with your team, do they reflect your audience? If your team consists of one type of demographic, your marketing campaigns will reflect that. Start to hire more diverse candidates to have a better chance of diversifying your campaigns. Of course, this is easier said than done, as it takes time to create change. One small change at a time, will add up to organization transformation over time.
Another option is to partner with a minority-owned company for services you do not offer. For example, if you do not offer video marketing services, consider partnering with a minority-owned agency.
Imagery is another important aspect. Our VP of Creative, Damon Yerian, hosted an internal meeting, “Diversity and Inclusion in Stock Photography”, that covered how to choose inclusive and authentic images. This is so important, I’ve seen so many big brands fail at this. Again, if you don’t have the internal resources to cover these topics, request outside help.
My final tip is to do your research to find someone that is an expert when it comes to multicultural marketing, like Syndi Craig-Hart. I’ve been a fan for years and was excited to see her on the agenda for INBOUND 2020. I’m happy that topics like multicultural marketing are at the forefront of the marketing industry.