The holiday season can be a time of joy, reflection, and celebration. A workplace that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will navigate holiday festivities through a thoughtful, inclusive lens. Recognizing and honoring the different ways that people celebrate, rest, and recharge in the winter months builds a sense of belonging within organizations. Employees may come from various religious or cultural backgrounds, each with its own unique way of celebrating (or not!) the holiday season at this time of year.
How can we be more inclusive this winter holiday season? Consider the following elements of holiday celebrations through a DEI lens:
Holiday Season Salutations
The greeting you choose can set the tone for holiday celebrations and the overall atmosphere of the season in the workplace. One common dilemma that arises during this time is the choice of greeting. Do we wish a 'Merry Christmas','Happy Holidays', or something else altogether? While "Merry Christmas" is a popular greeting during the holiday season, it carries a specific cultural and religious connotation. The phrase gained prominence as a Christmas greeting during the Victorian era and is deeply rooted in Christian traditions. It’s important to note that while "Merry Christmas" is a heartfelt wish for joy and celebration, it is inherently tied to the Christian holiday of Christmas. So for colleagues who you know celebrate Christmas, it’s a wonderful way to share well wishes during the holidays. When it comes to the words we choose to acknowledge and celebrate this time of year, it’s not about either/or, it’s about both/and: Being expansive in your words and actions throughout this season by choosing salutations like "Happy Holidays" or "Warmest Wishes" encompasses various festivities, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. It’s also important to recognize that for some folks this may not be a season of celeration, whether it’s because their faith has no major holidays this time of year, or because this season brings up a range of emotions based on personal experiences. These inclusive language best practices might feel like a lot to think about in the moment, but taking the time to prepare in advance to make the effort to welcome others into a time of year that’s joyful for you can have a huge impact.
When decorating the workplace, consider themes that are expansive beyond a single tradition. A winter theme, for example, can capture the festive spirit without focusing on any specific religious or cultural elements.
Events That Celebrate Everyone
If your workplace hosts holiday events, make an effort to center inclusivity in your planning process. Instead of focusing activities around a specific holiday, opt for inclusive themes that resonate with everyone. Consider activities that encourage employees to share their unique seasonal traditions, fostering a sense of community.
Honoring Time Off
Recognize that not everyone celebrates the same holidays or observes them in the same way. Be mindful of employees' preferences when it comes to taking time off during the holiday season. Consider flexible policies that accommodate different religious or cultural practices, allowing everyone to celebrate or reflect on the moments that are important to them.
Encourage open communication about holiday celebrations within the workplace. Create a platform for employees to proactively share their preferences, traditions, and ideas. This creates an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their perspective and ensures that everyone's needs are taken into account when planning festive activities.
Celebrating the winter season and its many surrounding holidays in the workplace is an opportunity for thoughtfulness and inclusivity. By embracing diversity, choosing inclusive greetings, creating diverse decorations, organizing inclusive events, honoring time off, and fostering open communication, workplaces can set the stage for a winter season that’s a time of joy for all employees.
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