For me, and for a lot of folks, 2020 was a whirlwind. About a month into the pandemic, the world experienced this social awakening to the inequities in the Black community.
From a corporate standpoint, this was largely uncharted territory. It was uncomfortable, but I love that our CEO stepped up and was willing to lead that conversation and lead by example to make it a business priority. Billy set a great tone, and I think that started to trickle throughout our companies. The UNIFI Employee Resource Group leadership team was ready to support the business. Living through this social awakening, the team had to process what was happening externally and then repackage it to have conversations internally with the company.
Announcing Juneteenth off as a companywide day of healing sticks out to me. For Billy to say we are going to stop all operations, including manufacturing, for an entire day told me that this is truly a business priority. This was the symbolic moment for me and the first action to indicate that Altria was putting its money where its mouth was. It was a holiday we did not plan for where we stopped our operations with an unplanned shutdown. It was a major feat to suspend operations.
We knew that things were weighing heavily on our employees. It was a difficult time for everyone, and we were going to take this day of healing, and we were going to move in a new direction to make sure we support our Black employees. It showed that Altria puts its employee first.
On Friday, June 19th, our UNIFI team, our executive sponsors and members of the Altria Leadership Team came together to raise the Juneteenth flag. It really served as the culmination, on our day of healing, to raise the flag at all of our facilities. It sent a unified message that we are going to use this day as reflection and since then, you have seen the momentum continue to build. It was a symbolic moment to signal that a change is here and we are all in on it.