How to Foster Diversity and Inclusion During the Holiday Season

Having a diverse workforce is only a tiny part of the gigantic workplace relations pie. It’s not enough just to have a variety of people in the building, as that won’t make relations harmonious. You’ll also have to consider that your workers have different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and practices; that’s where diversity and inclusion during the holidays come in.

But how do you celebrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace? How do you bring everyone together and celebrate their practices and beliefs without making other groups feel excluded or pressured? Those are million-dollar questions, but this piece will help you develop some strategies for doing so.

What Is Diversity and Inclusion During the Holidays?

The words “diversity and inclusion during the holidays” mean understanding that not all of your workers are on the same page as the corporation. Some of your employees may not celebrate the traditional holidays that most celebrate; more than 66 percent of your workers might observe Christmas, but others do not.

They may observe different days of the year and decline to participate in activities that don’t align with their beliefs. A diverse workplace tolerates, accommodates, and accepts those differences, even if the company doesn’t agree with them.

Inclusion is taking the time to learn about alternative practices and implement processes that allow workers to be individuals during holiday seasons. That might mean being tolerant when certain workers don’t attend specific festivities or finding a way to integrate their festivities into the celebrations.

Holiday celebrations are typically viewed as religious practices. The term “holiday” is an adapted version of the biblical term “holy day,” which describes certain days bible believers need to keep separate and sacred. Every religion has such holy days or holidays, and it celebrates something or someone during those occasions.

As a business, it’s wrong to assume that everyone follows the same religion, and thus, celebrates the same entities or occasions. The majority of your workforce might indulge in the same practices, but others may not. There’s still a way to bring all of those workers together to meet the needs of the business and cultivate peace and harmony within the workplace.

Read More: 11 Tips for Effective Remote Team Collaboration and Project Management

How To Start Practicing Diversity and Inclusion During the Holidays

How do you celebrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace? The answer is “very carefully.” The process of maximizing diversity and inclusion may not be easy at first. However, here’s what you can do:

Research Diverse Holidays

You’ll need to research so that you know which inclusive winter holidays to mention and focus on. For example, Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, is a winter celebration that people of the Hebrew faith are called to observe. Hannukah, or the Feast of Dedication, is another.

Kwanzaa is a Swahili celebration created by an American person in the 60s and assigned to “African-Americans.” Some people celebrate that, but don’t assume that all your perma-tanned workers do.

Bodhi day is another example of one of the diverse holidays to celebrate at work. It’s a special day for Buddhists. Yule is one of the inclusive holidays the Wiccan religion celebrates. Diwali is a Hindu holiday that occurs between October and November.

The Chinese New Year occurs late in January rather than at the beginning, and the Hebrew New Year doesn’t even occur in the same quarter as the traditional one. You get the idea. Researching the various holidays is the first step to including everyone when the time comes.

Communicate With Your Staff

You’ll need to gather information about different practices to move forward effectively. However, it may not be wise to walk up to each employee and ask them what they believe. One way to collect information is to issue an anonymous survey stating that you want to diversify your holiday celebrations.

Ask your workers to complete a multiple-choice questionnaire that lists various holidays so that they’ll choose the ones they observe. You can then have a team review the information to see how diverse your workplace is and better understand how to be inclusive. There’s no promise that everyone will participate, but you can at least gather some information about your workers in a non-threatening way.

Rephrase Your Greetings

Some workplaces have rephrased their greetings to make them more inclusive. For example, they now phrase their greetings with “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” acknowledging that some workers do not celebrate such a holiday. Other businesses list a variety of holidays on the greetings, but doing so can take up a lot of space.

Be Fair With Accommodations and Time Off Requests

Being diplomatic with time-off requests and accommodations is crucial when trying not to exclude anyone from the workplace. Blacking out certain dates is a fair practice that forces everyone to use personal time or points during the busiest season. On the other hand, approving one person and denying another because their holiday differs from the norm is an unfair move.

Bring More Awareness To Other Workers

Your staff also needs to be aware that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, and they should be mindful of those individuals. For example, some people will not respond to a “merry Christmas” because they do not accept the holiday as theirs. They are not being rude or non-sociable, but their religion may not permit them to acknowledge such days.

Likewise, a Christian or other type of believer may not want to exchange “happy Yules” with Wiccans. It’s a very tricky subject that will take some trial and error.

You may even want to create a course about religious tolerance and avoiding discrimination, bullying, and harassment concerning spiritual beliefs. Many workplace modules cover other types of discrimination and bullying, but they don’t touch on religious differences and how they can cause conflict if others aren’t tolerant. That will depend on how much you want to invest in fully diversifying your workplace.

Try To Find Out More About Other Practices

If you’re thinking about having a combined celebration, you might want to research how other faiths eat, drink, and celebrate during their festivities. That will help you serve suitable refreshments, foods, and snacks to those who wish to attend your holiday party.

For example, some people do not eat pork, shrimp, crabs, or other items. Thus, you could offer some alternatives so those individuals don’t feel left out while trying to mingle with their coworkers.

It might be challenging to avoid overwhelming the other employees with all the Christmas decorations. You could consider having different rooms with varied themes where the non-Christmas observers can feel comfortable. Doing so might make the event more of a holiday party than a Christmas celebration.

Show Everyone Appreciation

It’s crucial that you make every employee feel welcome in the workplace at all times, not just during the holidays. These workers need to know that you appreciate their decision to help your establishment meet its production goals, sales numbers, customer satisfaction rates, etc. Giving more attention to their needs during the holidays is one way to let them know that you hear and see them.

When holidays aren’t approaching, you can use other techniques to let these people know their value. Getting to know them on a first-name basis is always a good idea. Workers like it when their employers interact with them as people rather than ID numbers.

Awarding hard workers with incentives, promotions, or additional learning opportunities is another way. Sometimes, a simple thank you memo is all your employees need to feel appreciated.

Tips for Having a Successful Holiday Party

These are a few tips for having a successful holiday celebration:

List Your Guidelines and Instructions

Create a policy that includes the guidelines for safety and security. Provide your workers with instructions on how to get to the party and let them know of any dress code information or present purchasing practices.

Provide Menu Information

Some workers may need to know the menu options ahead of time to review the ingredients for allergens. Try not to leave out the small group of people who may have special diets and restrictions related to allergies and sensitivities. It’s just another way to ensure everyone has a good time at the party.

Have Overseers at the Party

It would be wise to have some overseers, security personnel, or chaperones at the party if it includes large amounts of alcohol. These people won’t be there to interfere with the festivities but to protect the workers if anything odd occurs, such as a fight or an instance of harassment. They will be there in case a worker needs them.

Provide Safe Travel Options for Workers

Offer safe traveling options so your workers can get home safely if they consume alcohol. Shuttles, rideshare discounts, and designated drivers are some examples of ways you can help.

Now you know some of the best practices for inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace. Use this information if you feel like you should make your holidays more inclusive. This process will not be simple because the majority of workers celebrate the same holiday, but it could work well if you put effort into it. Like anything else, it has its flaws and is open for discussion and revision.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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