diverse team of employees holding sparklers at a company party

Ways to Celebrate Employee Diversity During the Holidays – 4 Examples

The holidays provide an excellent opportunity for everyone in an organization to come together and celebrate. However, with our diverse cultures and religious beliefs, some employers may be unsure how to create a holiday celebration that’s welcoming and inclusive of everyone. Here are some helpful tips on how to plan your holiday events so they are both festive and inclusive. 

Fall and Winter Celebrations of Light 

Glowing candle

Since many holidays occur between October and December in various faiths, it is possible to plan events that acknowledge a variety of traditions. Some examples of holidays are Mawlid (Islam), Diwali (Hinduism), Hanukkah (Judaism), Kwanzaa (African), Winter Solstice, and Christmas – to name a few. One common theme through many of these holidays is the celebration of light – since they occur during the darker time of the year. It is a time for lighting candles or lanterns and decorating our homes with multi-colored string lights. So  “Celebration of Light” is a possible holiday party theme that could encompass different cultures.

New Year Celebrations

New Year’s celebrations are non-denominational in nature, so the perfect way to create an inclusive celebration. In addition to the calendar new year, many cultures have their own new year celebrations that take place in winter or spring. It’s a good idea to learn about and acknowledge various new year festivals as well. 

Ways to Prioritize Holiday Inclusivity in the Workplace

To celebrate diversity and create a positive workplace, here are some helpful tips on how to plan your festivities – whether in person or virtually.

  1. Establish a Diverse Party Planning Committee – Make sure your party planning team is comprised of employees of various backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs. Your committee can ask employees about their important holidays and how they are celebrated, and receive their input and suggestions on the best ways to plan company celebrations.
  1. Plan Inclusive Parties – You can celebrate holidays from each faith, or include elements from various cultures and faiths in one end-of-year or new year celebration. Alternatively, you could plan a party that is non-denominational in nature (such as a Celebration of Light or New Year’s that we mentioned earlier). The point is to plan events (and carefully choose the event title and description) so everyone feels welcome, included, and appreciated. 
  1. Create a Multi-faith Holiday Calendar – In addition to local and federal holidays, create a multi-faith calendar so there is awareness of other holidays and events. That way you can also send greetings to employees on their specific holidays. You could also consider offering flexible holiday leave, aka floating holidays, that employees can use for the holidays that they celebrate.
  1. Encourage an Open, Learning-oriented Company Culture – To really foster an inclusive company culture throughout the year – request employees to share how they celebrate their holidays. This can be achieved by planning an event – such as a cultural event – that includes cuisine, attire, traditions, and decorations from a particular country or culture. Some companies throw a multicultural Thanksgiving potluck so cuisines from various cultures and traditions can be sampled. This is a great way for employees to get to know each other’s backgrounds and cultures. 

Demonstrating respect for different cultures and traditions will go far in making employees feel welcome and included. Allowing your team to guide your holiday planning will change the focus from celebrating a specific religious holiday or season to celebrating your company’s workforce diversity. We’ll leave you with a quote from Nellie Borrero, Managing Director, – Global Inclusion & Diversity at Accenture:

“Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice we make every day. As leaders, we have to put out the message that we embrace and not just tolerate diversity.”

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