It’s the holiday season! The holidays are a time of celebration, food, and fun, but it is also a time where companies must be sensitive to the varying religious and cultural customs of employees. It is nearly impossible to acknowledge every holiday celebrated during this time, however there are steps organizations can take to create an inclusive environment around the holidays. Here are three steps to consider when embracing diversity and encouraging an inclusive environment during the holidays:
1. Keep events non-specific
When planning holiday events, stay neutral and avoid holiday specific celebrations. More than likely your employees represent a variety of cultures and beliefs. It is important for organizations to respect cultural differences and avoid assumptions about the cultural and religious practices of employees. When planning events remember to keep decorations, music, and themes general. Choosing a company-wide activity such as collecting food and clothes, conducting a toy drive, or assisting a soup kitchen is a great way to bring the company together during this time—and remain inclusive.
2. Avoid legal issues
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion. Employees cannot exclude or favor employees based on religious practices or beliefs. Employers are required to accommodate employee’s religious customs—unless doing so creates undue hardship on the employer. During this time, offer a flexible schedule to all employees for the various religious and culturally significant days. Since the holiday season is a time with many designated days off, in addition to requested days off, managers should request employees’ schedules early to avoid conflict or lack of resources.
3. Create a fun learning environment
While trying to remain inclusive and sensitive during this time, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Remember the holiday season should be fun—and it is possible to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone! Since the importance of best diversity and inclusion practices are heavily prevalent right now, take this time to reiterate to employees your commitment to diversity. Use this time to encourage staff to share their traditions and customs with coworkers. Having a better understanding of each other creates a stronger team and a better work environment!
Diversity is a key factor when building an innovative, productive, and successful workplace. One of the most important principles to keep in mind during this time is respect. Employers have to respect the personal, religious, and cultural practices of everyone. As we embrace people from various backgrounds every day, let’s remember to remain inclusive and considerate of all during the holiday season.