Being Inclusive During The Holidays

The festive holidays are something many of us look forward to and we eagerly order presents online for our friends and families. However – Christmas and other festive holidays aren’t celebrated by everyone. Our blog this week will focus on how we can be more inclusive during the holidays for our friends and peers in the workplace.

The Festive Holidays

There are many holidays which happen throughout the year. Some may be religious, meaning it relates to someone’s faith or belief, and others are cultural, which relate to a group of people or a city or country.

Examples of religious holidays are:

  • Eid Mubarak celebrated by followers of Islam.
  • Diwali celebrated by Hindus, Jains Sikhs and Buddhists.
  • Passover celebrated in Judaism.


Examples of cultural holidays are:

  • Pride Month in June
  • Black History Month in October
  • Women’s History Month in March


The biggest and most prominent holiday in the UK is – Christmas. Christmas is a cultural holiday celebrated by many but it’s a primarily a religious event observed by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Those outside this religion or of different cultural or religious beliefs will not celebrate or recognise this holiday.

The Negative Effects

Having a month-long celebration for Christmas can be exciting and fun, but it can also lead some of our friends and peers to feel excluded and alienated.

They might feel that their cultural and religious beliefs aren’t getting the same recognition in the workplace as other beliefs. For others, it could be that certain holidays remind them of a negative experience in their life that they’d rather forget or remember in private.

Whatever the reason, extending this celebration and festivities into the workplace could cause a mixture of negative emotions for your team. It can lead to broken communication out of fear of being asked ‘what are you doing for the holiday?’ or even lower productivity because of the distraction.

This is something no team wants and in reality, everyone should feel comfortable, safe and included in their workspace.

Ways to be more inclusive during the Holidays

1) Don’t send out a generic Christmas gift!

Although this a kind gesture and a great sign that your leaders value you as an employee, gifting an object which focuses on a holiday someone might not celebrate could have the opposite effect.

Instead, a card or a thank you note for their hard work over the past year would be just as kind and more appreciated. It’s more personable and focuses on why you’re giving the gift – because you are glad, they are on your team!


2) Instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ opt for ‘Happy Holidays’!

When you’re writing up your weekly team update email or meeting at the kettle to make some much-needed coffee, it might be easy to quickly say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘I hope you have a good Christmas over the break.’

In retrospect, this is a simple and nice greeting or conversation ender for most people in the UK, however it can leave some of your peers feeling uncomfortable.

Instead of referring to Christmas, swap it for ‘holidays’. It’s not taking away from Christmas and it’s also correct for your peers who don’t celebrate – you are all experiencing a holiday/break in your workplace! 


3) Swap a Christmas party for a ‘giving’ celebration!

Singing, dancing, and eating delicious food is a great experience for anyone, but again when singing along to Santa and other cultural and religious subjects may alienate members of your team.

There are many charities and organisations which ask for donations, support or even volunteers during the busy month of December – this is a great opportunity to come together as a team to celebrate ‘giving’.

You could arrange the food, dancing and singing but with more generic party music and also set up party games which focuses on raising money for important causes. Alternatively, you could set up a day where your team volunteers for a night for an organisation.

This shifts the focus away from celebrating a cultural and religious holiday to actually helping others during a busy month. This is universal value that can be recognised and doesn’t go against cultural or religious beliefs – it’s just a lovely and great thing to do as a team!


4) Maintain balance throughout the year!

If you’re business or workplace is diverse (which is great!), then you may already hold events and activities for different cultural or religious holidays for your team throughout the year. For example, during Diwali your team may brightly decorate the office or Eid Mubarak you may abstain from eating in or schedule busy events in the office.

In these cases, it might be appropriate or normal to celebrate Christmas as you would for any other member of your teams’ religious or cultural events. However, this all comes down to balance and maintaining that representation and inclusion all year round.

If your team has a good understanding of each other’s boundaries and beliefs, then you’re on the right track and you’re doing everything you can for your team.

Overall, it’s best practice to be open, welcoming, and thoughtful of everyone’s individual beliefs and experience of the holidays.

If you keep this in mind before the holiday season begins, your teams trust and respect for you will be high. Likewise, your friends and peers in the workplace will appreciate the effort you’re making to ensure they are comfortable!

We hope you enjoyed reading our blog this week and have learned more about D&I and the festive holidays. If you want to read more of our educational blogs, you can click here.

If your organisation needs support and help to create an inclusive and happy environment for your team, you can explore D&I roadmap here and contact us today!

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