JPMorgan, U.S. Bank Shorten Workday to Observe Juneteenth

(Bloomberg) -- Some of the largest U.S. financial institutions will shorten their workday this Friday, joining companies including Target Corp., Allstate Corp. and Nike Inc. in commemorating Juneteenth, the day that marks the effective end of American slavery.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the country’s biggest bank, will close its U.S. branches at 1 p.m. local time on June 19 to give front-line workers the opportunity to “reflect, learn and participate in peaceful events in their communities,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a memo to staff Wednesday. U.S. Bancorp, Capital One Financial Corp., Comerica Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Banco Santander SA announced similar plans.

“Closing the branches enables many of our colleagues to join in the celebration and reflect on not only America’s achievements, but also its enduring effort to acknowledge its flaws and become a better nation,” Dimon said in the memo. “Now is the time for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equality, recognizing that all people are created equal, that no one anywhere should be denied their unalienable rights.”

Myriad companies across finance, technology, retail, media and other industries are marking Juneteenth this year, with dozens giving their workers the day off. The move follows public outcry spurred by the killings of African Americans including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks by police officers, which have led to nationwide protests and growing awareness of systemic racism in America.

Non-branch workers at JPMorgan will also get the option to end their workdays early Friday, their roles permitting. The bank said it will pay hourly U.S. employees scheduled to work Friday for a full day, while hourly staff in core functions who have to continue working will be paid for an extra four hours.

In shutting early for Juneteenth, JPMorgan follows lenders including Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, which said Tuesday it will close its branches and offices at 1 p.m. Friday, and is encouraging employees to use the time to serve their communities, commit to advocacy and inclusion, or educate themselves about discrimination.

“The events of the past few weeks have changed the conversation and added a sense of urgency that has motivated more people across the globe to act to address social injustice,” U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Officer Andy Cecere said in a statement Tuesday. “That begins with acknowledging our rich and diverse history.”

Read more: More big law firms opt to observe Juneteenth at offices

Capital One, based in McLean, Virginia, will close its offices and branches at 2 p.m. Friday. In a memo to employees, Meghan Welch, the firm’s chief diversity, inclusion and belonging officer, acknowledged the continued violence that Black Americans have faced in recent weeks.

“These have been stressful times, and overwhelming for many,” Welch wrote. “This is perhaps most true for our Black associates. It is our hope that honoring Juneteenth creates an opportunity for much needed rest, reflection, celebration and education.”

Ralph Northam, governor of Capital One’s home state, announced Tuesday that he’ll propose making Juneteenth an official holiday in Virginia.

Dallas-based Comerica said Wednesday it will close offices, call centers and bank branches at 2 p.m. local time Friday. PNC, based in Pittsburgh, announced similar plans.

Santander Holdings USA Inc., a subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, said on Monday that it would close offices and branches at noon on Friday. The U.S. unit also promised a “thorough review” of its businesses, employees and investment practices “to redouble its commitment to racial equality and justice.”

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