From Hanukkah to Kwanzaa, multiple non-Christian holidays fall in the winter months. But don’t just add a menorah to your decorations and call it good. There are more thoughtful and inclusive ways to celebrate diversity during the holidays.
One way to make sure your holiday party reflects your brand’s commitment to an inclusive workplace? Just steer clear of religion altogether, says Sondra Thiederman, author of Making Diversity Work. “The more you try to please members of every single group, the greater danger you are of deeply offending someone left out,” Thiederman told Monster.com. “Go for neutrality, not specificity.”
Here are five more steps you can take to ensure your company is celebrating diversity, even as it celebrates the close of a strong last quarter:
Your office holiday bash isn’t on the calendar because of a single religious or secular holiday. So it shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to throw a modified Christmas party, either. Instead, office holiday parties are about setting aside time at the end of the year to appreciate your team’s hard work. This framework sets your company up for success and makes the workplace celebration open and inclusive to everyone.
Your holiday party planning team should also make inclusion its main goal. Think big by collecting a wide variety of perspectives at early stages of the planning process. Consider smaller details, too. How will your holiday theme stay neutral? Winter decor, like snowflakes and snowmen, are better than Christmas trees, for example.
Celebrating the holidays is a great opportunity to check in with staff about their needs and preferences, and to acknowledge the wide range of diversity in your staff. Ask for input around themes, menu items, dates, and gift giving. Collect surveys.
Widen your net when it comes to the party planning committee, too. Send out all-company reminders for planning meetings to invite feedback and participation. The more feedback you collect leading up to the party, the more likely your shindig will make everyone feel welcome—and excited about attending the holiday party!
Instead of gravitating toward traditional “Christmas” or “Hanukkah” dishes, broaden your palate to include festive dishes across cultures. Remember that some religious traditions, like Islam and Judaism, forbid pork consumption, while others, like Hinduism, forbid beef. Still other traditions and diets lean vegetarian—and, of course, you’ll want to consider Kosher and Halal diets, too. Finally, there should always be “attractive non-alcoholic beverages to accommodate those that don’t drink for religious or health reasons,” says Marjorie Stamper-Kurn, an equity, diversity, and inclusion consultant at MSK Connections, at HRDive.
If you’re too busy or too tired to curate a diverse catering menu, ezCater can simplify your work. Our catering platform connects busy professionals with holiday catering solutions that work for everyone. Use our filters to search for and order a wide variety of party food.
Even when accommodating different diets, you’ll still have plenty of festive foods to choose from. Whether you highlight seasonal fruits and veggies, like butternut squash and cranberries, or ask your officemates to submit their favorite party foods, celebrating diversity tastes delicious!
You want employees to attend your winter party—you’ve worked hard planning it, after all. But creating an inclusive workplace means being sensitive to employee needs and comfort levels. With so many religious holidays and family obligations falling at the end of the year, it’s unfair and inconsiderate to make any office party mandatory.
If your office offers “floating holidays,” or flex time for religious obligations, it’s especially important to check in with employees. Get feedback on the potential party date so as many people as possible can attend.
Your office’s efforts to foster an inclusive workplace should last year-round. What lessons did you learn about celebrating diversity from the holiday party? What kinds of feedback did you receive about holiday themes or menus that might help office administrators or managers connect with and support a diverse staff year-round? Add follow-up and implementation to your to-do list before you head into the new year.
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