Celebrating Diversity This Holiday Season
Between November and January, there are close to 30 different holidays observed by the world’s seven major religions and other non-religious celebrations and remembrance days. Recognizing that everyone celebrates this time of year differently is critical to maintaining an inclusive workplace and supporting your company’s DEIA values. Here are some tips for honoring and celebrating diversity this holiday season!
Be thoughtful in planning and communicating about holiday celebrations.
If you are a manager or supervisor, don’t be afraid to ask employees what holidays they observe and how (or if!) they would like to have some office holiday celebration. Make sure any party planning committee includes people from diverse backgrounds and keep non-dominant holidays in mind when scheduling events. One increasingly popular option is to prepare the office celebration close to New Year’s Day. Limit scheduling conflicts and frame the event to thank staff for their hard work. You can also welcome in the organization’s vision for the coming year.
It’s also important to remember that not all holidays are celebratory. While the media and society have perceived the November-January season as joyful, some holidays, such as Trans Day of Remembrance (11/20), signify mourning and loss rather than celebration. Consider creating space for employees to share what these holidays mean to them and their communities.
Similarly, some holidays, such as Thanksgiving Day, Columbus Day, and Indigenous Peoples Day, are increasingly recognized as having complicated histories. These histories can be complex for all of us to navigate, especially in the workplace. One way to address this difficulty is by taking a “yes and” approach. This approach allows us to remember what may be optimistic about the holiday (the “yes”) while simultaneously recognizing and respecting the historical traumas they may bring up for others (the “and”). Finally, ensure that attendance and participation in any office holiday event are optional.
Regardless of what holidays we do or don’t celebrate, the end of the calendar year can be hectic. Be mindful when scheduling meetings, particularly toward the start or end of the day, and when assigning tasks or deadlines. Managers and supervisors should give employees a little wiggle room. Examples include attending a partner’s office holiday party or children’s school events.
Embrace learning about new ways and reasons for celebrating diversity!
Finally, rather than looking at diverse holidays as another challenge to navigate, try out a mindset of excitement and curiosity. What are your colleagues’ holiday traditions? What foods do they eat? Do they give specific types of gifts? Are there traditional songs or games? Learning about different cultures and traditions should be fun, so take the time to engage with your colleagues and employees during the holiday season. The office holiday event could even build in time for people to share their favorite traditions!
We all mark the holidays differently, even from the same religious or cultural background. Acknowledging and celebrating diversity can make this time of year even more special.
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