Diversity and Inclusion in the Holiday Season

The end-of-year holiday season is upon us, and many people around the world are ready to celebrate! However, the traditional “holiday” festivities can leave some employees feeling left out or overlooked. Many religious holidays occur at the end of the year. Diversity and inclusion efforts should not stop during the holiday season but should expand to make all employees feel appreciated and welcomed. 

Be Aware of Other Holidays

While Christmas gets the most attention at the end of the year, several holidays from various faiths and cultural traditions occur around the same time. A few examples are: 

  • Bodhi Day, December 8th – A Buddhist holiday commemorating the day that Siddhartha Guatama experienced enlightenment
  • Diwali – A five-day Hindu celebration of lights that is observed in early autumn after the conclusion of summer harvest that coincides with the new moon 
  • Eid al-Fitr – A celebration that marks the end of Ramadan in the Muslim faith. This holiday has shifting dates that sometimes fall in December. However, in 2021 it occurred in May. 
  • Hanukkah – An eight-day Jewish festival of lights that also shifts dates each year, taking place from November 28th to December 6th in 2021 
  • Kwanzaa –  A weeklong secular holiday honoring African-American heritage celebrated from December 26th to January 1st each year  
  • Lunar New Year – A traditional Chinese holiday marking the end of winter that will take place February 1st in 2022 
  • Yule – A Wiccan or pagan celebration of the winter solstice that takes place between December 20th and December 23rd each year

Make Holiday Celebrations Voluntary

If you are hosting a workplace holiday party, don’t require employees to attend. Some religions, like Jehova’s Witnesses, do not celebrate any holidays. Also, it is important to consider personal reasons for not wanting to celebrate, such as people grieving a loss or experiencing depression. Depending on the time of day or location of the event, employees could have challenges with transportation or childcare. In addition, there are now personal health concerns impacting decisions around social gatherings, which makes it even more important to provide options for those at risk. 

If You Don’t Know What Employees Want—Ask!

One of the best ways to be sure you are including everyone is to ask for input! Survey employees to find out which holidays they would like to celebrate with coworkers throughout the year. You can also gather ideas about what kind of events appeal to them. Another great option is to create a diverse planning team that includes employees from different departments, backgrounds and seniority levels. 

Know the Purpose of Your Celebration

If the true purpose for your holiday party is to show appreciation for employees, think about having an annual celebration that takes place at another time of year. Consider a new year celebration rather than a “holiday” party. Not only will you avoid scheduling hassles during the busy holiday and vacation season, but you will create a new tradition that brings everyone together.