To my fellow JCPenney Associates,
It has been three weeks since the horrific death of George Floyd and now just days since the tragic death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. American voices are growing louder and calling for an end to racial injustices. This momentum is increasing across our nation and the world.
During these past weeks, I have talked with and heard from many of you. I am grateful for these conversations and shared insights. You have asked how we will reflect, listen, and seek to understand one another and do more to combat racism after the senseless deaths of so many. I, like you, am listening and learning, and remain committed to taking steps forward each day, and for the rest of my life.
This week, every officer at JCPenney will host open listening conversations with their teams, including furloughed associates. The leaders have been learning and preparing for these conversations and are committed to ensuring all of our associates feel respected and highly valued at JCPenney.
These conversations are designed to be open, collaborative, and supportive. They are an opportunity to listen to and better understand each other. The conversations are meant to share our experiences and examine our assumptions. Our Company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity runs deep, yet we must dig deeper and do better.
As many of you know, JCPenney’s original name was The Golden Rule. James Cash Penney’s founding principle was that we must treat others as we want to be treated. It is critical that we be there for one another as the nation continues to grieve and struggle to unite against racism.
In honor of Juneteenth, I am pleased to share that we are making June 19, an annual Company holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people learned they were free as word of the end of the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas.
This Friday, June 19, I ask that you take the day to honor the historic pain caused by – and lives lost to – racial inequity and celebrate racial diversity. This is an opportunity to continue to learn, connect with each other, and reflect on how we can move forward and achieve permanent and lasting change. Hourly associates working to serve our customers that day will receive additional holiday pay.
Much has happened in the weeks since George Floyd died and I am grateful that perspectives have been broadened and awareness has been created. Thank you for continuing this conversation with me. I am humbled to be part of this beautifully diverse and inclusive organization. I will continue to listen and learn from all of you and strive to make improvements as we grow together. Our richness is because of the people we know and the beauty we find within one another. And it is together, as we support one another, that we will continue to move forward during these difficult times.
One team united against racism,
Chief Executive Officer